Case against Dunn in HP scandal dismissed

California prosecutors agreed Wednesday to a plea deal in the Hewlett-Packard Co. "pretexting" scandal, reducing a series of felony charges to a misdemeanor for Patricia Dunn, HP's former chairwoman and several others involved in the case.

As part of the deal, Dunn was allowed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of fraudulent wire communications. Instead, in court, she did not enter any plea and the case against her was dismissed by the judge.

The agreement was announced by California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and -- unless federal charges are filed -- may bring an end to a case that grew out of the boardroom leak investigation initiated by Dunn. In trying to root out the leaker, HP's investigators illegally acquired phone records of board members and reporters, using a method called pretexting.

The agreement with prosecutors allowed Dunn, along with former HP legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker and investigators Ronald DeLia and Matthew Depante, to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge. The original felony charges were filed by the state late last year by then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Hunsaker, DeLia and Depante each pleaded "nolo" to the misdemeanor count. The court rejected those pleas, and offered to dismiss the case against all three if they completed 96 hours of community service "and make restitution as necessary" by Sept. 12. "If those defendants satisfy those conditions by a court-ordered deadline, the court will dismiss the case against them."

The court had been expected to waive community service for Dunn, "in light of her medical condition...," the state said. It has been widely reported that Dunn has been battling cancer.

The fact that the judge dismissed the case against her apparently releives her of any community service obligations.

Dunn and four other defendants had faced a number of charges over the pretexting scandal, including felony charges for using "false and fraudulent pretenses" to obtain phone company records of 12 individuals, including HP board members and several reporters.

The identity theft charge involving acquiring names, phone and Social Security numbers "for an unlawful purpose."

The case was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

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