Former HP lawyer charged with identity theft

A former senior in-house lawyer at beleaguered Hewlett-Packard (HP) has been indicted on charges of fraud and identity theft in the US for his alleged involvement in the ‘pretexting’ scandal that rocked the company in recent weeks.

Four felony charges were filed against HP’s former director of ethics Kevin Hunsaker, who oversaw the 2006 internal investigation at the centre of the imbroglio, by Californian attorney general Bill Lockyer yesterday.

Hunsaker faces 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 arise 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 ‘prextexting, pretending to be someone else, to obtain information from telephone companies.

Former HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn was also charged, along with three private detectives who carried out the investigations into boardroom leaks.

Dunn left her post two weeks ago when it became apparent that she had initiated the investigation and got frequent feedback on its developments.

Hunsaker also left the company after the scandal came to light. He instructed San Diego white-collar defense lawyer Michael Pancer for the subcommittee hearing.

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