by CIO Staff

HP Scandal: Dunn, Others to Be Charged in Calif.

Oct 04, 20062 mins

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Patricia Dunn, former chairwoman at computer bigwig Hewlett-Packard (HP), will face felony charges, along with four other individuals, in relation to the company’s controversial investigation into the source of sensitive company information leaked to media outlets, The New York Times reports.

The news comes from attorneys involved in the case, according to the Times.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is expected to hand down indictments to the five today, the sources told the Times.

Lockyer will indict Dunn; Kevin T. Hunsaker, ex-HP senior attorney; Ronald DeLia, a private investigator based out of Massachusetts; Joseph DePante, owner of Florida-based Action Research Group, an information broker; and Bryan Wagner of Littleton, Colo., who reportedly obtained phone records as part of the HP probe while in the employ of DePante, the Times reports.

The five individuals face four felony charges each, including false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility, unauthorized access to computer information, theft of identity, and conspiracy to commit the crimes, according to the Times.

The charges are a result of HP’s now widely publicized probe into its own board of directors to determine if the leaked information originated from a member. HP contracted DeLia for assistance in the investigation and DeLia brought on DePante and Action Research Group, the Times reports. California is accusing all five of participating in a practice dubbed “pretexting,” or the impersonation of someone to fraudulently obtain information, according to the Times.

The HP board of directors probe was initiated by Dunn in 2005, when she contacted DeLia, who routinely provided her with status reports, the firm said, according to the Times. Hunsaker oversaw the operation during 2006, the Times reports. Dunn resigned in September, and Hunsaker’s lawyer said he was let go after refusing to tender his resignation, according to the Times.

“Today’s announcement by the California Attorney General of indictments against HP’s former Chairman, its former Senior Counsel, as well as the detective firm and one of the pretexting firms indicates that prosecutors are beginning to moving forward to address the violations that occurred here,” said U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) of the news.

Copies of the indictment documents can be found here.