3 H-P Investigators Who Spied on Reporters Plead Not Guilty

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Three private investigators who obtained confidential telephone records as part of Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom spying probe pleaded not guilty Tuesday to identity theft and other felony charges.

Ronald DeLia of Massachusetts-based Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc., Matthew DePante of Florida-based Action Research Group Inc., and Bryan Wagner of Colorado were arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Each was released on personal recognizance.

DeLia, DePante and Wagner are among five people criminally charged last week for their roles in the spying scandal at the computer and printer giant. Former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and the company’s ousted ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker appeared in court late last week.

All four are charged with using of false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility; unauthorized access to computer data; identity theft; and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes. Each charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and three years in prison.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said the investigation is ongoing and could lead to more charges.

The three investigators are accused of impersonating HP board members, employees and journalists to trick telephone companies into divulging their private phone logs.

DeLia, a longtime HP contractor on security investigations, was allegedly the middleman between HP and the other two investigators.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, Dunn worked with DeLia on HP’s ultimately unsuccessful media-leak investigation in 2005.

HP then contracted with him again this year after a story appeared on CNET’s News.com in January with an anonymous source dishing about a private board retreat.

DeLia contracted with Action Research Group, where DePante is a manager, to obtain the private phone logs, who in turn hired Wagner as a subcontractor, according to the criminal complaint.

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