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ISPLA ALERT-PIs to plead guilty in California on HP Phone Scandal

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    Two private investigators to be sentenced in federal court regarding HP Phone Scandal A July 12, 2012 AP item reports that two former private investigators
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13, 2012
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      Two private investigators to be sentenced in federal court regarding HP
      Phone Scandal


      A July 12, 2012 AP item reports that two former private investigators are
      facing sentencing on charges of allegedly using false identities to gain
      access to the phone records of Hewlett-Packard board members, employees and
      journalists. Joseph DePante and his son, Matthew DePante, were to appear in
      U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA, each to be sentenced to three years of
      probation and six months of electronic monitoring as part of their plea deal
      with prosecutors.

      A former NCISS board member, Joseph DePante was known in the investigative
      community as a PI and information broker providing telephone information to
      both private and public sector investigators. The DePantes operated under
      the business name of Action Research Group. Both plead guilty to conspiracy
      to commit Social Security fraud in February.

      Federal prosecutors said HP investigators had hired the DePantes to
      ascertain who was leaking boardroom information to journalists which had
      commenced in 2005.



      The DePantes' allegedly used the illegal practice of "pretexting" or
      pretending to be someone else to secretly secure copies of private telephone
      logs. The firm directed other investigators posing as account holders or
      phone company employees to illegally obtain personal information including
      phone numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates and call logs,
      authorities said. When the alleged illegal activity was undertaken a federal
      statute specifically banning the use of pretexting to gain telephone
      consumer information had not yet been enacted.



      According to the AP: "During the covert operation, prosecutors said that HP
      and private investigators obtained the confidential information of the
      company's board members and employees as well as reporters for the New York
      Times, the Wall Street Journal, Cnet and these reporters' families."



      "The Social Security Number was an essential piece of information required
      to obtain the subject's telephone record and other information...," court
      documents said. "The Social Security Number is, for many Americans, the
      closely-guarded key of all of their financial and personal records."



      In 2007, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge dismissed charges against
      then-HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn in connection with the case. The judge's
      decision came after the state attorney general's office reduced charges
      against several other defendants, including Matthew DePante. "At worst, the
      conduct in this case amounted to boardroom politics and a betrayal of trust
      and honor, rather than criminal activity," the judge said, according to a
      transcript of his remarks supplied by the attorney general's office.



      He said the investigation nevertheless "achieved much public good,"
      including helping spur the passage of state and federal legislation
      specifically outlawing "pretexting."



      California had reached a $14.5 million civil settlement with HP in December
      2006, which was slated to fund state and local investigations into privacy
      rights and intellectual property violations.



      Bruce Hulme

      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ispla.org



      Resource to Investigative and Security Professionals













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