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Cingular Wireless filed a lawsuit Friday against Charles Kelly, one of five private investigators who allegedly impersonated Hewlett-Packard Co. board members in an effort to obtain customer calling information. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, is seeking to get Kelly and his firm, Georgia-based CAS Agency Inc., along with any of its agents, to return confidential caller information and any profits made from the obtained data. The suit asks for an injunction from the court to prevent Kelly and his firm from obtaining any further customer information. It also claims punitive damages. Kelly, along with other private investigators, was subcontracted through Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc., the company H-P hired to determine who on the computer giant’s board was leaking sensitive information to the press. Last Thursday, Kelly was subpoenaed to appear before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the H-P scandal. Kelly and the others took the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and were immediately dismissed. Kelly could not be reached for comment. Cingular is represented by David Balser and Nathan Garroway of McKenna Long & Aldridge in Atlanta. The suit claims that Kelly and his firm did not obtain authorization from Cingular, its customers, or law enforcement agencies to acquire personal customer information, in violation of federal law. Lawmakers grilled current and former H-P executives on Thursday over the scandal, in which hired private investigators for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company impersonated H-P board members, employees, and journalists. The hired guns rifled through people’s trash, planted spies in newsrooms, obtained phone records through a practice known as “pretexting,” and spied on targeted individuals and their relatives. On the day of the hearing, Verizon Wireless filed a similar lawsuit in a Trenton, N.J., federal court in response to the H-P pretexting scandal. “Ours is a John Doe lawsuit,” says Jeffrey Nelson, executive director of corporate communications for Verizon Wireless. “We don’t name any particular individuals [in our suit], but we believe it involved one member of H-P’s board and potentially a family member of that board member.” Joe Crea can be contacted at [email protected]

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