Print 6 comment(s) - last by Furen.. on Jan 19 at 1:25 AM

Four people facing felony charges can accept a deal in which they would be charged with one misdemeanor charge

According to sources familiar with the HP pretexting spy scandal, the California attorney general's office has offered former Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four other defendants a bargain in which they can plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.  The state originally filed four felony charges against the five main people involved.  Along with Dunn, California has filed charges against former HP ethics director Kevin Hunsaker and three private investigators contracted by the company:  Matthew DePante, Bryan Wagner and Ronald DeLia.  

Wagner, a Colorado private investigator, became the first person to plead guilty to charges stemming from the HP spying case.  Wagner pled guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges for his role in gathering personal and confidential information on a number of HP board members and journalists in a deceptive manner.

Stephen Naratil, attorney for Wagner, said that the California attorney general’s office proposed to reduce the felony charges to one misdemeanor count at the end of December of last year -- the misdemeanor charge would carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine up to $5,000.  The other four have not accepted the offer put on the table by the state.

Each felony count carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.

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RE: Fines...
By Furen on 1/19/2007 1:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
Punishment is supposed to be non-discriminatory and punishing someone who makes more money with stiffer fines would be completely discriminatory.

Regardless, these are criminal cases, the real punishment meted out by them would be the prison terms. These people have enough money that they can probably make these cases long and grueling for the state, particularly so because they touch in a bit of a gray area of the law, so offering them an easy way out is not a bad idea in itself. The lesser beings (ie, the people that actually did the actions ) will likely be railed by the state and the legal precedent will make it so that the next time something like this happens everyone gets railed equally. If someone with resources fights this thing out and ends up winning then we'd have an adverse precedent. Not to mention that the state would burn a lot of taxpayer resources.

What I'm wondering is how a misdemeanor plea would affect a civil suit against these defendants. If they were found guilty of a felony then, obviously, they would get horribly mangled in a civil court but the fact that the state will not prosecute them would make a civil suit more expensive for the plaintiffs (and the misdemeanor plea would be useless since it's likely to be a no contest plea rather than a guilty plea).

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