Ousted Hewlett-Packard chairman Patricia Dunn and four others were named today in a criminal complaint filed by the state of California. The felony charges in the complaint are keyed to the spying scandal that has hit the technology company, according to the New York Times.
Also named in the complaint filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court were Kevin T. Hunsaker, a former senior lawyer at HP; Ronald R. DeLia, managing director of Security Oursourcing Solutions, an outside security contractor for HP; Matthew DePante, manager of Action Research Group, a Melbourne, Florida, information broker; and Bryan C. Wagner, a Colorado-based employee of ARG, according to a news release from the office of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
"One of our state's most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential information to the press," said Lockyer in a statement. "In this misguided effort, people inside and outside of HP violated privacy rights and broke state law."
Lockyer's office has been investigating the spying allegations because HP is based in Palo Alto, California. [Update: The charges were filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.] The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been conducting separate investigations of HP.
All five defendants were charged with fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes, according to the attorney general's office. All of the charges are felonies.
Update: Dunn's Lawyer Responds
In a statement released after the filing, Dunn's attorney, James Brosnahan, said his client will fight the charges.
"These charges are being 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. He did not elaborate on his charge of a disinformation campaign.
"As her many supporters fully expect, she will fight these charges with everything she has," he said.
The scandal has attracted the attention of the U.S. Congress. On Sept. 28, Dunn told the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that she believed employees and lawyers who said that the HP's leak investigation complied with the company's standards of conduct.
The subcommittee was holding hearings into the use of pretexting. The committee passed a federal ban on pretexting but the Congress adjourned before the full House or the Senate voted on the legislation.
When questioned about the techniques used to track down the leaks arose in the latter part of the investigation, Dunn said, she passed concerns to company Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd. Before then, the company's lawyers had assured her the techniques were being done "legally and properly," she said.
"At no time in the investigation did I authorize its methods," Dunn said. "I asked this to be done in the HP standard way."
On his part, Hurd told the subcommittee that he was not aware of the details of the techniques being used. He said he did not read a report from the investigating team that detailed the use of pretexting.
HP said today it was continuing to cooperate with state and federal investigators.