updated 11/10/2006 9:47:10 AM ET 2006-11-10T14:47:10

Kevin Hunsaker, former ethics chief for Hewlett-Packard Co., has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges for allegedly directing the computer and printer maker's ill-fated boardroom spying probe, authorities said.

Hunsaker was arraigned Tuesday in an unannounced hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court, weeks ahead of his scheduled Dec. 6 court date, said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Hunsaker, who refused to resign from HP and was fired, is one of five people charged for HP's investigation into the source of a boardroom leak to the media. The probe involved obtaining the private phone records of journalists and board members through a shady practice known as "pretexting."

Former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who initiated the probe, appeared in court last month to surrender and was released on her own recognizance. Three private investigators — Ronald DeLia, Matthew DePante and Bryan Wagner — pleaded not guilty and were also released.

All five are scheduled to appear in court again on Nov. 17, when Dunn is expected to enter a plea and the other four will have their preliminary hearings.

The defendants each face four felony counts: use 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.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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