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HP snooping team offered plea bargain

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California state prosecutors have offered to drop felony charges against former chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four others accused in the HP spying scandal if they plead guilty to lesser misdemeanour charges.

Stephen Naratil, the lawyer for private investigator Bryan Wagner, told Associated Press that Deputy Attorney General Robert Morgester made him the offer. He said the same deal was on the table to Dunn, former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker, and Wagner's fellow gumshoes Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante.

The Attorney General's office is staying schtum on the bargain. Hunsaker's lawyer Thomas Nolan denied his client would be cutting a deal. He said: "We're not involved in the plea negotiations because Kevin didn't do anything wrong and didn't do anything illegal."

The five face felony charges of identity theft, conspiracy, fraud and illegal use of computer data for their part in the reporter pretexting saga which emerged last year.

Dunn and Hunsaker's lawyers are due back in court on 28 February to set dates for preliminary hearings. More here from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last week, the first federal charges in the case were made against Bryan Wagner. ®

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