Ex-HP chairman Dunn pleads not guilty

Appears at San Jose, Calif., courthouse to answer felony charges for spying on reporters, company directors.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CNN) -- Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony and conspiracy charges in Santa Clara County Superior Court, in a case related to the internal leak scandal that rocked HP, according to the California attorney general's office and Dunn's attorney.

Dunn was charged on Oct. 4 with four felony counts: conspiracy; fraudulent use of wire, radio or television transmissions; taking, copying and using computer data; and using personal identifying information without authorization.

Dunn, as chairman, initiated an investigation in 2005 into the source of a board of trustees leak to the media. The probe came up inconclusive and was restarted again in early 2006.

It was later alleged that the probe involved questionable practices, including pretexting - obtaining personal confidential information through false pretenses - to spy on HP (Charts) directors, journalists and employees. That sparked state and federal investigations, with which HP says it is cooperating.

In the wake of the bubbling scandal, Dunn stepped down from her post. She has denied knowing that illegal tactics would be used in the investigation.

Four others - Kevin Hunsaker, HP's former senior counsel and chief ethics officer; Ronald DeLia, managing director of Security Outsourcing Services, the investigative firm hired by HP; and two other outside investigators - have also pleaded not guilty to felony and conspiracy charges related to the HP leak investigation, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.

All parties involved in the criminal case are to meet in the San Jose courthouse Friday to set the dates and times of preliminary hearings, a court clerk announced.

Lockyer's office said he did not oppose defense motions Wednesday to waive Dunn's appearance at future court proceedings and to lift travel restrictions.

HP has struggled to find its footing in recent years. The company has faced strife at the executive level, which led to the sudden departure of CEO Carly Fiorina in February 2005. At the same time, HP has worked to develop a product line to give it an edge against fellow computer firms Dell (up $0.16 to $25.75, Charts) and IBM (down $0.18 to $93.11, Charts).

--from CNN's Katy Byron in New York


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