The former ethics chief at Hewlett-Packard Co pleaded not guilty late last week to felony charges for his alleged role in the company’s boardroom spying probe.
Kevin Hunsaker, a former senior counsel at the computer maker, was not scheduled to appear in court until December 6, but was arraigned last Tuesday.
He was thought to be fired from HP in late September, after refusing to resign when he was subpoenaed by a US congressional for allegedly directing the internal investigation into media leaks from the company’s board. Congress is investigating the company spying on reporters and its own employees.
Hunsaker is widely thought to have headed the internal probe, which came to be called Kona II and reportedly focused on two HP media relations reps, Brigida Bergkamp and Michael Moeller.
The leak investigation involved nine reporters, seven HP directors, two HP employees and various family members during 2005 and early 2006.
HP has admitted to hiring third-party investigators who falsely assumed other people’s identities in order to open online phone bill accounts – a questionable practice known as pretexting. The company said it hired outside private investigators as part of its probe, and has admitted to giving an HP employee’s Social Security number to one of those PIs, presumably in order to help the company in its pretexting efforts.
The probes eventually outed HP director George Keyworth as the leaker. He has since retired.
In addition to pretexting, HP has also admitted to physically surveilling at least two people and sorting through the trash of at least one person in order to find information about the leaks.
Dunn appeared in court to surrender last month and was released on her own recognizance. Three PIs have pleaded innocent and also have been released. They are Ronald DeLia, operator of Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc, Matthew DePante and Bryan Wagner.
Hunsaker, Dunn and the PIs are due to appear in court again this Friday. Dunn is expected to enter into a plea, while the remainder will have preliminary hearings.
The defendants each face 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. For each charge, they face a maximum fine of $10,000 and as many as three years in prison.
HP appointed a new ethics officer, Jon Hoak, former general counsel at NCR, in mid-October. He reports directly to HP’s chief executive Mark Hurd until the company finds itself a new general counsel to replace Ann Baskins, who quit her job shortly before Congress began its hearings in September.