HP Leaders Booked On Felony Charges, Maintain Innocence

They are the first of five people to be booked in a California court on felony charges stemming from HP's internal probe into boardroom leaks.

October 6, 2006

4 Min Read
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Patricia Dunn, Hewlett-Packard's former board chairperson and Kevin Hunsaker, former HP lawyer and ethics chief, voluntarily surrendered to authorities Thursday and were released pending arraignments.

The two were the first of five people to be booked in Santa Clara County Superior Court on felony charges stemming from HP's internal probe into boardroom leaks to the media. Prosecutors released Dunn on her own recognizance and scheduled her arraignment for Nov. 17.

The terms of Hunsaker's release were not immediately clear. His arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 6.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Dunn, Hunsaker, and three investigators under contract broke several laws while obtaining detailed phone records that yielded information on 590 land, cell and fax lines. They each face charges for allegedly engaging in fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit those three crimes.

Hunsaker and Dunn maintain their innocence.Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for Lockyer, said Thursday that authorities had arranged with lawyers for two of the three contractors charged in the case. Lawyers for Ron DeLia of Massachusetts and Bryan Wagner of Colorado indicated their clients would travel to California to surrender voluntarily this week, Dresslar said. When they do, they will be booked and scheduled for arraignment. Bail, requested at $50,000 each, could be renegotiated.

As of Thursday afternoon, authorities had not been able to contact Matthew DePante, the other subcontractor charged, nor anyone on his behalf. Prosecutors sought $100,000 bail for DePante. Reports earlier in the week named DePante's brother, Joseph as being targeted by the investigation. Though he works with Matthew DePante, Joseph DePante has not been charged.

Hunsaker's lawyer, Michael Pancer, said the investigators obtained phone records before Hunsaker became involved. He said that after Hunsaker became involved he believed those methods had been vetted by his superiors and other lawyers he respected. Despite that, Hunsaker double-checked and believed the methods were legal, Pancer said.

"It will be clear, when all of the facts are aired in this case, Mr. Hunsaker is not guilty of any of the charges," he said. "Neither Kevin Hunsaker nor HP ever authorized, encouraged, or knew of any unlawful activity. Kevin took no actions related to obtaining information about phone calls that were not known and authorized by his superiors after they had obtained an attorney's opinion that the investigative tactics were legal If he could undo everything that has happened now, he would. However, at no time did he -- or would he -- ever authorize or engage in any activity that he thought was illegal."

Pancer reiterated the argument that HP employees and leaders had the best of intentions: stopping leaks they believed could hurt the company.

Dunn has denied knowing that investigators used questionable or illegal. Her lawyer, James Brosnahan, issued a statement denying the charge. He said the charges were "brought against the wrong person at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.""They are the culmination of a well-financed and highly orchestrated disinformation campaign," Brosnahan said. "What makes this bearable for Pattie Dunn, is the enormous support she has received in the last three weeks from all kinds of people who know her character, who know her commitment to good corporate governance and who know instinctively and immediately that these charges are false -- and they are false."

He said Dunn worked her way up in the business world when it was not easy for women to get in the door. He said she has always stood for "corporate process, responsibility and service."

"As her many supporters fully expect, she will fight these charges with everything she has," Brosnahan said.

His office did not immediately return calls seeking comment on who orchestrated the "disinformation campaign."

DeLia's lawyer did not return calls for comment Wednesday and he could not be reached Thursday. Some news reports quoted a statement from DeLia, who said he was innocent.No one answered calls to DePante's office, and Wagner could not be reached.

Lockyer's investigation is continuing and Lockyer has not ruled out that he may file additional charges.

Lockyer filed criminal complaints with felony charges after he and other attorneys combed through a stack of e-mails, memos, reports and other documents, totaling about one million pages. The complaint states each of the five were aware of, and involved with pretexting. It also states that Wagner destroyed his computer "because it had incriminating evidence on it and he would not assist in locating it."

For the second time since Sept. 6, when HP publicly acknowledged investigators may pretexted, or used deception, to obtain phone records, the company's stock fell. It closed Thursday at $37.84, down 18 cents, or .47 percent.

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