Now, HP is a criminal case
California files charges against ex-chairman Dunn, others involved in leak probe; CEO Hurd not named.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Former Hewlett-Packard chairman Patricia Dunn faces felony criminal charges for her role in the company's controversial leak probe, but chief executive Mark Hurd has dodged legal action for now.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer brought felony charges against Dunn, HP's former chief ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker, and three private investigators Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
No criminal evidence has been found against Hurd, who has come under increased pressure for the role he played in the probe, but Lockyer said his investigation remains open.
The investigators named in the complaint were Ronald DeLia, managing director of Security Outsourcing Services, the investigative firm hired by HP; Matthew Depante; and Bryan Wagner.
All of the defendants named in the complaint face four felony charges: conspiracy; fraudulent use of wire communications; wrongful use of computer data; and identity theft.
All four counts carry a maximum prison sentence of three years. Three of the counts carry a maximum fine of $10,000, while a conviction for conspiracy can carry a maximum fine of $25,000.
Lockyer has asked the court to issue arrest warrants for the defendants, but his office will make arrangements for Dunn and Hunsaker to surrender voluntarily, he said.
"One of our state's most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press," the attorney general said in prepared remarks. "In this misguided effort, people inside and outside HP violated privacy rights and broke state law."
The complaint alleges that Dunn knew that private investigators obtained phone records through false pretenses - also known as pretexting - and that she gave DeLia phone numbers for HP board members in April 2005.
Dunn has consistently denied that she was aware pretexting methods were being used during the investigation. At a House hearing last week, she testified that she never knew that tactics involving the misrepresentation of someone's identity would be used in the investigation and that she was assured by Hunsaker that the methods being used were legal.
Dunn's lawyer called the charges false and said they were "being brought against the wrong person at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons," according to Reuters.
According to the attorney general's complaint, Hunsaker, who led the investigative team that eventually identified the source of the boardroom leaks, knew in January of this year that false pretenses were being used to access the phone records.
Both Hunsaker and DeLia invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination last week on Capitol Hill.
Dunn resigned from HP on Sept. 22. Hunsaker left the company last week.
The discovery that HP used pretexting to spy on its directors, journalists and employees has enveloped the venerable Silicon Valley firm since the scandal broke early last month.
The company's surveillance tactics have also sparked an investigation from the Justice Department.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP said it is still cooperating with state and federal investigations.
The HP probe goes back to 2005, when then-chairman Dunn initiated an investigation into company leaks after the departure of former chief executive Carly Fiorina in March. The probe came up inconclusive and was restarted again early this year.
Board member George Keyworth eventually was fingered as the source of the leaks. Keyworth resigned from the board last month.
Shares of HP (Charts), which have outperformed rivals Dell (Charts) and IBM (Charts) in the last year, haven't been hurt by the HP boardroom drama. HP's stock has gained about 3 percent in the four weeks since the scandal broke.