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6/28/2007
01:22 PM
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HP Pretexting Charges Dismissed

A judge dismissed all remaining charges at a hearing Thursday morning, during which defendants presented proof that they had completed community service they agreed to in March.

Charges against defendants in the Hewlett-Packard pretexting case have been dismissed.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Ray Cunningham dismissed all remaining charges during a hearing Thursday morning, at which defendants presented proof that they had completed community service they agreed to in March, a court clerk confirmed.

Former HP ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker and private investigators Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante were charged last year with identity theft, wrongful use of computer data, fraudulent wire communications, and conspiracy to commit those crimes. The felony charges, brought by former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, stemmed from HP's internal investigation into media leaks.

After attempting to identify members of HP's board who had spoken to the press, the company admitted the investigation crossed a line. Investigators gained access to detailed phone records of journalists, board members, and family members of both. HP executives were called before Congress to explain who used deception to obtain those records, as well as who knew about the tactics of investigators and when.

The case shined a light on a lack of privacy protections for phone records. It also turned HP's board inside out, leading to several resignations.

Former HP board chairwoman Patricia Dunn was also charged in the case, but Cunningham dismissed those charges without requiring Dunn to perform community service. Dunn battled a cancer relapse while also battling negative press over the incident. She maintained her innocence.

The company itself settled a civil suit with a $14.5 million payment and an agreement that it would monitor its investigative practices and enforce privacy protections.

The company's media representatives did not return calls Thursday. The defendants and their lawyers could not be reached immediately.

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