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SACRAMENTO � Former Hewlett-Packard General Counsel Ann Baskins escaped criminal charges Wednesday, even as state prosecutors charged five others in connection with the computer company’s boardroom spying scandal. Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed charges in Santa Clara County Superior Court against former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn; ousted HP senior counsel and ethics director Kevin Hunsaker; private investigator Ronald DeLia; records dealer Joseph DePante; and Bryan Wagner, who did work for DePante. All five face felony charges of fraudulently obtaining confidential records, identity theft, accessing computer data without authorization, and conspiracy in connection with HP leaders’ hunt in 2005 and early 2006 to find out who was leaking information from closed-door board meetings to the media. Investigators hired by the company allegedly used pretexting � using a ruse or false identity � to obtain the phone records of 24 individuals, including reporters and board members. “One of our state’s most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press,” Lockyer said in a prepared statement. “In this misguided effort, people inside and outside HP violated privacy rights and broke state law.” Like Baskins, Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd and former security chief Anthony Gentilucci were not charged Wednesday, although both were involved with the internal probe, records show. Baskins attorney Cristina Arguedas declined to comment on the charges, as did an attorney for Gentilucci. In a press release, Dunn’s lawyer, James Brosnahan, said the attorney general had charged “the wrong person at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.” He also cryptically called the charges “the culmination of a well-financed and highly orchestrated disinformation campaign.” Baskins did not testify at last week’s congressional hearing on the HP scandal, invoking her constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate herself. She resigned her post as general counsel the same day. Dunn, who did testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, suggested Baskins had approved the questionable tactics used in the investigation, while outside counsel Larry Sonsini testified that he had asked Baskins about pretexting and had been told by her that it was legal. According to internal company documents released by the congressional panel, Baskins was sent copies of a number of e-mail exchanges between Hunsaker � who oversaw the investigation code-named “Kona” � DeLia and other investigators, which chronicled efforts to trick a reporter into unwittingly divulging her company sources. In a sworn complaint, Deputy Attorney General Robert Morgester said that “DeLia recalled that Baskins was curious about pretexting and concerned about its legality and had asked DeLia whether it was lawful. DeLia replied that he was aware of no laws that made pretexting illegal, and was aware of no criminal prosecutions for such activities.” Speaking for an article published last month in The Recorder, Arguedas called Baskins � who had not yet resigned from HP � “a person of great integrity” who was “at the top of her profession.” “I’m not aware of her doing anything wrong at all,” Arguedas said. Trying to discern why the attorney general didn’t charge Baskins “is like asking why isn’t it raining,” said Rory Little, a former prosecutor and currently a professor at Hastings College of the Law. “The short answer is, there’s no guarantee she won’t be indicted,” Little said. “And we don’t know what evidence she has. She may be talking to the AG. Or she may have provided exculpatory evidence.” The scandal became public when board member Thomas Perkins resigned in protest of the investigation methods and later complained that HP did not report his reasons for doing so to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Director George Keyworth was identified as the source of the leak. He resigned from the board in September. The attorney general filed charges under a section of the Penal Code that makes it illegal to seek “utility” records under false pretenses. All four counts carry a maximum prison sentence of three years under current law. A recently signed state law that goes into effect Jan. 1 punishes those who use pretexting to obtain or sell phone records with fines of up to $2,500 or a year in county jail. In a press conference Wednesday, Lockyer said the current case will rely on “numerous state laws” protecting consumers’ privacy as well as the state Constitution. “Our state Constitution includes one of the country’s most expansive rights to privacy,” he said.

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