The California attorney general’s office has offered plea bargains to former Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four other defendants, offering them the chance to accept a misdemeanor charge each for their role in H.P.’s spying scandal, The San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday. But federal prosecutors will continue with their own case, which the Mercury News said could endanger those deals through “double jeopardy” provisions in California’s penal code. (State attorneys are discouraged from pursuing cases in which defendants have been acquitted or convicted in federal court.)
H.P. found itself in an imbroglio last year when it admitted that it had spied on board members and reporters as the company tried to find the source of a leaker. The computer maker admitted to hiring outside investigators to track individuals like Thomas Perkins through techniques like pretexting, or the obtaining of personal information under false pretenses. Ms. Dunn and other H.P. officials eventually resigned amid the growing controversy, and Congress held hearings into the matter.
Beyond Ms. Dunn and Mr. Wagner, state prosecutors have filed felony charges against H.P.’s former ethics director, Kevin Hunsaker, and two other private investigators, Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante.
Federal prosecutors have already won a guilty plea from Bryan Wagner, a Colorado-based private investigator, who admitted to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
DealBook notes that the state attorney general’s aggressive pursuit of the case came under William Lockyer, who famously declared that a crime had been committed shortly after the scandal broke. Mr. Lockyer has since won election as the state’s treasurer.
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