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Dunn Avoids Prison in HP Scandal

March 14, 2007
Related Topics: Miscellaneous Legal Issues, Ethics, Latest News

California state judge on Wednesday (March 14) dismissed charges of fraud against former Hewlett-Packard non-executive chairman Patricia Dunn for her role in the spying scandal that rocked Silicon Valley and sent shockwaves through boardrooms nationwide.

Three other defendants in the case—Kevin Hunsaker, a former HP executive, and Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante, two private investigators the company hired to investigate boardroom leaks to the press—pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor of fraudulent wire communications, but Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Ray Cunningham said the charges will be dropped if each defendant serves 96 hours of community service and makes restitution to victims.

The charges stemmed from a botched internal investigation authorized by Dunn into leaks to the press made by board members. Outside investigators hired by HP gained access to private phone records through false pretenses in a practice known as “pretexting,” and used the information to spy on board members, employees and reporters.

Soon after the scandal erupted in September, Dunn resigned along with board member George Keyworth and several other HP executives.

Dunn was initially charged in October along with the three other defendants with four felony counts: use of false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility, unauthorized access to computer data, identity theft and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes. Each charge carried a maximum fine of $10,000 and three years in prison.

Dunn, who is suffering from cancer, issued a statement published on The Wall Street Journal’s Web site: "I am pleased that this matter has been resolved fairly, and want to express my deep gratitude to my husband and family, who never lost faith in me throughout this ordeal. I have been strengthened by wonderful support during this difficult time—both from my dear friends and from people I have never met. I have always had faith that the truth would win out and justice would be served—and it has been."

—Jeremy Smerd

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