HolidayBuyer's Guide

Dunn gave phone numbers to PIs

Documents offer new details of HP's leak hunt, including info Patricia Dunn shared with private investigators.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn may not have known what "pretexting" meant, but she personally provided to HP's outside investigators the telephone numbers of reporters whose phone records were accessed without their permission.

Documents made public last week reveal that Dunn provided the home, office and cell phone numbers of two BusinessWeek reporters to Ronald DeLia, the operator of Security Outsourcing Solutions, which was hired by HP to conduct a hunt for boardroom leaks.

In an e-mail from Dunn to DeLia dated May 16, 2005, she wrote, "Here are their numbers." Following that were the phone numbers of reporters Ben Elgin and Peter Burrows. The actual telephone numbers were redacted in the documents reviewed by CNET News.com.

In an internal report supplied to Dunn and others on efforts to unearth a media leak in 2005, the company's investigators also offered a rundown of reporters' telephone calls. A source close to the investigation said that Robert Sherbin, HP's vice president of external communications, provided the phone numbers to Dunn and that she believed investigators needed those numbers to find out if the reporters were talking to board members.

"I don't recall giving Miss Dunn these numbers," Sherbin told News.com Monday. "If I did, it's because they were requested by her in her capacity as HP chairman and it would have been in relation to a story that BusinessWeek was pursuing at the time that she was involved in. I certainly had no idea that their numbers would be used for any reason that was not proper and legitimate."

In an example of the detailed information that the investigator provided to HP, the report states that "Ben Elgin placed a call to (BusinessWeek reporter) Roger Crockett's cell phone on March 9, 2005," according to the June 15, 2005 report. "And Crockett placed two calls to Elgin's cell phone (the same day)."

There's no indication in the records that Dunn ever heard or read the word "pretext," which refers to the practice of obtaining private records through the use of false pretenses, or that she knew the practice was legally questionable. But the documents indicate Dunn was intimately involved in the investigation with DeLia.

"We are being hung out to dry. The politics, smokes, mirrors are high. I have lost a lot of respect for a lot of people, amazing really."
--Anthony Gentilucci, then HP's security manager, in a Sept. 6 e-mail

Dunn has maintained that, until very recently, she had no idea that pretexting was used to get those phone records or that they were obtained through legally questionable means.

"My understanding was these records were publicly available...I understood that you could call up and get phone records," Dunn told a congressional committee last week.

The new details regarding Dunn's involvement come after last week's hearing into HP's investigation by a U.S. House subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. HP still faces a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and criminal investigations by California's attorney general and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Northern California. Dunn has resigned, and several HP executives involved in the leak probe have left the company.

The more than 700 pages released by the subcommittee on Monday include e-mails, memos, bills from private investigators and reports that provide new insights into the lengths to which HP executives were willing to go to expose the source of media leaks.

The documents also suggest that HP CEO Mark Hurd knew about the use of phone records in the investigation earlier than was initially believed.

Hurd recalled hearing during a July 2005 meeting that "somebody mentioned obtaining phone record information off the Web," according to a memo from Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, HP's outside law firm.

"Hurd remembered thinking that there must be a Web site with such information," the Sonsini attorneys wrote in their Aug. 25, 2006, memo.

But in other statements given to the law firm's attorneys, who were asked by HP to look into the company's investigative tactics, Hurd said he did not remember details about the techniques used by HP's investigators and said he hadn't heard the word "pretext" until recently.

In addition, the documents released Monday indicate that HP's investigators were after more than just phone records. In the fall of 2005, a laptop computer was stolen from HP board director George Keyworth's home in Italy, according to the documents. Several months later, Kevin Hunsaker, HP's former director of ethics and the man who at that point was tasked with spearheading the investigation, discussed in e-mails with DeLia and former HP security manager Anthony Gentilucci the need to track down the machine because it could contain confidential HP information.

Although Hunsaker realized the laptop was likely Keyworth's personal property, he wanted to know whether it was appropriate to search the computer for evidence that could aid in their leak investigation.

In an April 21, 2006, e-mail, Hunsaker supplied DeLia and Gentilucci with the serial number of the missing computer and in a follow-up e-mail wrote: "Now let's get those guys in Italy to find that laptop!!!!. It could be the case breaker of all case breakers."

On April 22, DeLia asked Hunsaker, "Is the laptop HP property? Did (George Keyworth) purchase or was the laptop provided to him by HP?"

Hunsaker responded: "I believe it belongs to GK, as each board member is given something like $2,000 a year to spend on HP products. So, while HP provided it directly to him, I do not believe it is tracked or considered to be an HP asset."

Hunsaker also wrote that "we will need to have someone open it up to determine whether any of the data on the computer was accessed and compromised so we can access whether HP-related data is now out in the public domain, so we'll need to determine who is best-suited to do that. And, as part of that search, we'll have to determine whether it's appropriate to see if there's anything relevant to the Kona II (the code name for the second HP leak hunt) investigation on the computer. So, we should probably have it returned to Fred in our Roseville office."

Though it's not clear whether the laptop was ever recovered, the cost of attempting to retrieve the computer was included in a breakdown of charges HP incurred as part of the Kona II investigation. A document labeled "Kona II billing detail December through April 2006" lists: "Laptop recovery activity in Italy (2 thefts-BoD members laptop) $9,668."

By August, enthusiasm for the leak hunt had been replaced by concern. DeLia wrote to Hunsaker in a Aug. 26, 2006, e-mail: "It appears AT&T has filed lawsuits against online data broker companies for the same reason (providing customer call records) they have been sued for!"

And by September, Gentilucci worried if he would lose his job.

"We are being hung out to dry," Gentilucci wrote to a co-worker in a Sept. 6 e-mail, the day after the leak probe became public. "The politics, smokes, mirrors are high. I have lost a lot of respect for a lot of people, amazing really. If I am still here next week, we can discuss over a beer in a week or two."

Two weeks later, Gentilucci resigned.

CNET News.com's Scott Ard, Jim Kerstetter and Anne Broache contributed to this article.
Close
Drag