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Indictments coming in HP scandal



Published: Wed, October 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The news comes as the former HP chief is to start chemotherapy and the company is planning an expansion in India.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- California's attorney general will file criminal indictments Wednesday against former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four others involved in the corporate spying scandal, according to news reports.

Citing people familiar with the case, The New York Times and BusinessWeek reported that Kevin Hunsaker, HP's ousted chief ethics officer, and Ronald DeLia, a Boston-area private investigator, would each face criminal charges. Two other outside investigators -- Joseph DePante of Melbourne, Fla. and Bryan Wagner of Littleton, Colo. -- were also being charged, the Times said.

They each will face four felony charges: 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.

The boardroom drama erupted last month when HP disclosed that detectives it hired to root out the culprits in a series of boardroom leaks secretly obtained detailed phone logs of directors, employees and journalists. The detectives used a potentially criminal form of subterfuge known as pretexting to masquerade as their targets and trick telephone companies into turning over the records.

Dunn -- who initiated the investigation -- said she didn't know until after the fact that the detectives went to such extremes to unearth clues about the leaker's identity. She resigned from HP's board after initially saying she would step down as chair but remain a director.

Lawyers for Dunn and the others expected to be charged did not immediately return calls seeking comment. HP declined comment, as did a spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

News of the indictments comes in the same week Dunn, 53, is scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatments for advanced ovarian cancer, according to a person close to her.

The treatments are to start Friday at the University of California at San Francisco, the person said late Tuesday. The person asked to remain anonymous because a formal announcement wasn't planned.

Dunn was diagnosed with the ovarian cancer in 2004, and had surgery in August on a metastasized tumor, family members have said. She had beaten cancer twice before, stepping down in 2002 as CEO of fund management giant Barclays Global Investors to battle breast cancer and melanoma.

Despite the legal drama unfolding, HP said today it will invest about 22 million (about 1 billion rupees) to build a second manufacturing plant in India to meet the growing demand for computers there.

The new plant in the northern Indian town of Pantnagar is expected become operational by March next year, the company said in a statement.

The new plant will assemble HP's latest range of desktop computers, workstations, notebooks and servers and will have a capacity to assemble 300,000 units a month, the statement said.

"The new manufacturing facility in Pantnagar and the existing facility in Bangalore will help HP in quickly addressing the growing demand for HP products across the country," the statement said.

Pantnagar is about 125 miles northeast of New Delhi.




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