Charges Likely Within Week in HP Case

Criminal charges could come within a week in the boardroom spying scandal at Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.

Spokesman Tom Dresslar did not say who would be charged or what the charges would be. He also emphasized that it may take longer for the detailed investigation to produce charges.

"We're not going to confine ourselves to any particular timetable," Dresslar said. "We'll go when we're ready to go, and not a minute before that."

On Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he already had enough evidence to charge HP insiders and the private contractors who impersonated board members and journalists in order to access logs of their personal phone calls.

"We currently have sufficient evidence to indict people both within Hewlett-Packard as well as contractors on the outside," Lockyer told PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

He also has said HP's internal probe of media leaks violated two California laws governing identity theft and illegal access to computer records.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney for Northern California are also investigating HP for illegal computer intrusion and wiretapping. The company also faces inquiries by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

On Tuesday, the company announced that Chairwoman Patricia Dunn would step down in January and be replaced by chief executive Mark Hurd.

Dunn has admitted authorizing the investigation into who was leaking boardroom secrets to reporters, but said she was appalled that private investigators hired by the company used Social Security numbers to impersonate HP directors and reporters, then persuaded phone companies to turn over detailed logs of their home phone calls.

The ruse — known as "pretexting" — is commonly used by private investigators but is against the law, according to Lockyer.

But legal experts said Dunn would only face criminal charges if it's proven she knew that detectives would be engaging in illegal activity.

Director George Keyworth II, HP's longest serving board members, resigned on Tuesday after acknowledging that he was a source of the leaks.