Prosecutors in California have brought criminal charges against several people involved in the Hewlett-Packard spy scandal, including the company's former chairwoman, Patricia Dunn.
Dunn spearheaded the investigation of boardroom leaks to the news media, but she says she did not know investigators were using illegal techniques to identify the source.
Prosecutors say HP's investigation crossed the line when contractors secretly obtained telephone records of board members and reporters.
The new charges target not only Dunn, who ordered the investigation, but also a former HP lawyer, Kevin Hunsaker, who oversaw it, and the Boston-area private detective who ran it. In addition, prosecutors are expected to charge one or two contractors who are believed to have actually carried out the spying.
Investigators used a variety of techniques to find out who on the HP board of directors was leaking to the news media. They followed people. They sent a reporter an e-mail with a hidden tracking feature. They even dug through someone's trash.
But where the HP spies apparently ran afoul of the law was "pretexting," or impersonating board members and reporters in order to obtain their personal telephone records from the phone company. Attorney General Lockyer has said there are at least two laws on the books in California against the practice.
Dunn, who resigned as chairwoman 12 days ago, insists she didn't know pretexting is illegal.
The felony-class charges filed Wednesday stem from a law against fraudulently obtaining phone records from a utility. It carries sentences anywhere from a year and four months to three years in prison.
Dunn, however, may have more serious concerns at the moment. She is a cancer survivor, and it was revealed Wednesday that she is going back in the hospital on Friday to undergo chemotherapy for advanced ovarian cancer.