Former HP Employees in Spying Scandal Avoid Jail Time

March 14, 2007 ( - In a deal reached Wednesday, felony charges against former Hewlett-Packard (HP) chairwoman Patricia Dunn were dismissed while three others agreed to plead guilty on lesser charges.

In November, Dunn pled not guilty to four felony identity theft and fraud charges brought in September after she and three others were accused of conducting a spying investigation into boardroom leaks (See November 16, 2006 NewsDash). According to MarketWatch, the deal on Wednesday called for the defendants to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

While a judge is expected to waive penalties for Dunn, who is being treated for cancer, the other three are expected to be ordered to perform 96 hours of community service and pay any necessary restitution fees. A spokesman for the office of California Attorney General Jerry Brown told MarketWatch the cases would be dismissed after the defendants satisfied the requirements of their pleas.

The four had faced the possibility of up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of the felony charges. The plea agreements do not protect against criminal charges being filed by federal prosecutors against all but Dunn.  

Dunn resigned last September after it was revealed that private investigators working for HP used the Social Security numbers of board members and employees, as well as those of journalists who report on the company, to obtain phone records and other data in an effort to discover the source of boardroom leaks.