Sacramento, Calif. — Former Hewlett-Packard chairperson Patricia Dunn was named in a felony complaint Wednesday along with Kevin Hunsaker, the company’s former chief ethics officer and senior council, in California’s Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The charges come in the midst of a highly-publicized scandal revolving around HP’s alleged use of illegal methods, specifically identity fraud, to obtain personal information about some of its board members, their family members and some journalists to determine who had been leaking confidential information to the press.
Ron DeLia, managing director of Security Outsourcing Services, a firm hired by HP to perform the investigation, was also named along with Matthew Depante and Bryan C. Wagner, both of the Florida-based Action Research Group. HP’s CEO Mark Hurd has not been named so far, but published reports attribute California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for having said that the investigation of Hurd is not yet complete.
According to a release from Lockyer’s office, Dunn and her fellow defendants face felony charges for fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit those three crimes.
Lockyer’s release said that all four counts carry a maximum prison sentence of three years. It also said that he had asked the court to issue warrants for the arrest of all five defendants but that his office would arrange for Dunn and Hunsaker to surrender voluntarily while the other three defendants, who reside out of state, will likely be arrested and eventually extradited to California to stand trial.
The complaints allege that the defendants used “false and fraudulent pretences” to gather confidential information on 12 individuals including company employees, their family members and journalists and that they willfully and knowingly accessed and used the acquired telephone data account information without permission for unlawful purposes. Lockyer’s complaints also allege that Dunn and Hunsaker were aware that the investigators they had hired were gathering this information under false pretences and that the duo “facilitated the continued use of illegal means.”
The official charges come after a hearing held last week before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce where, according to published reports, Dunn testified that she had been unaware that the investigators were using tactics involving identity fraud and that she had been assured that all of the methods being used were legal. Hunsaker and DeLia did not testify at the hearing, as they chose to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination.
Both Dunn and Hunsaker have resigned from HP in the wake of the scandal’s eruption. Upon Dunn’s resignation, which took place four months earlier than planned, Hurd held a press conference where he apologized to reporters for the company’s invasive attempts to uncover which board member had leaked information to news organizations.
After yesterday’s indictments, HP released the following statement “HP is continuing to cooperate with state and federal investigators looking into the boardroom leaks issue. The company has no further comment.”