Hewlett-Packard: charges against senior lawyer dropped

The former senior in-house counsel of troubled Hewlett-Packard (HP), Kevin Hunsaker, has avoided a criminal conviction on counts of fraud stemming from an internal company inquiry,

HP’s former chair during the internal investigation, Patricia Dunn, was among another three defendants standing trial. Judge Ray Cunningham of the Santa Clara County Superior Court dropped all criminal charges against the defendants on the condition that they complete 96 hours of community service.

But the end of the state case does not mean that a federal case cannot be brought in the future.

The four faced charges of: conspiracy; fraudulent use of a wire, radio or television transmissions; taking, copying and using computer data; and using personal identifying information without authorisation.

The charges arose from a company inquiry into boardroom leaks. In a bid to determine who was giving journalists information, HP instructed Security Outsourcing Solutions, which in-turn hired another detective to gather information. The detective allegedly used ‘pretexting’, pretending to be someone else, to obtain information from telephone companies.

In December, HP paid $14.5m (£7.3m) to settle the case against the company by the California attorney general.

HP hired Jon Hoak, former general counsel of NCR, the Ohio-based tech company, to replace Hunsaker in October.

HP’s former general counsel Ann Baskins was not indicted. She stepped down in late September after 24 years at the company after pleading the Fifth Amendment (against self-incrimination) at a special House Committee hearing into pretexting.

She was replaced by long-term external adviser Michael Holston of Morgan Lewis & Bockius as general counsel (see The Lawyer, 12 February).