Technology

The Men Who Conducted the HP Probe


When Anthony Gentilucci, former manager of global security at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), appears before a congressional subcommittee on Sept. 28, he'll face a tough grilling by lawmakers. Gentilucci is likely to be asked to elaborate on his role in the probe of leaks to the media by the company's board of directors.

In particular, legislators will probably want him to unravel a tangled web of relationships that led to at least three layers of investigators working a probe that involved possibly illegal methods and itself has become the subject of several government investigations.

Gentilucci, along with HP Senior Counsel Kevin Hunsaker, is on the way out at HP. Both have been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee is trying to shed light on a technique known as pretexting, whereby an investigator impersonates someone else to obtain that person's telephone records.

Lawyers hired by HP to investigate the probe say Gentilucci provided the Social Security number that may have been used to get calling records for an HP employee, one of 18 individuals who were the subject of pretexting. That's just one of several ways Gentilucci figures in the probe set in motion by former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who stepped down on Sept. 22.

LONGTIME COLLEAGUES. Gentilucci, 50, rose to manager of corporate security at HP amid a series of acquisitions. He was hired at Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) in 1991 and stayed on after DEC was acquired by Compaq Computer in 1998 and again after HP bought Compaq in 2002. Before joining Digital, Gentilucci was employed by First Security, a Boston-area security firm that's now a unit of Securitas, the Swedish security consulting firm. Before working at First Security, he studied at Northeastern University, completing a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1979.

While employed at First Security, former colleagues say, Gentilucci overlapped with Ronald DeLia, who later would become the owner of a private investigation firm, Security Outsourcing Solutions (SOS) of Needham, Mass., which also became involved in HP's search for the source of board leaks.

DeLia's firm had a "longstanding contractual relationship" with HP and was contacted by Dunn to carry out investigative work that started in early 2005, according to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the law firm hired by HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd to take a deeper look into the probe. That first phase of the investigation, dubbed Kona I, was concluded in July, 2005.

"TRUSTED ONE ANOTHER." DeLia and Gentilucci are also central figures in Kona II, a second, more aggressive investigation that began in early 2006 and was directed by Hunsaker. It was during Kona II, which lasted until May 24, that investigators hired by HP engaged in pretexting. Among the targets were nine journalists, including three reporters at BusinessWeek.

At some stage, investigators also weighed carrying out "undercover operations" at the San Francisco offices of The Wall Street Journal and CNET, according to Morgan Lewis. A study into the feasibility of such methods was circulated in February by Gentilucci, The New York Times reported on Sept. 20. Calls to DeLia and his lawyer, John Kiernan, were not returned. Gentilucci could not be reached. HP declined to comment on DeLia and Gentilucci for this story.

Gentilucci may have been a key link between HP and SOS. Richard Guilmette, a security consultant in Franklin, Mass., worked with Gentilucci at DEC from 1992 to 1998 and left when Compaq completed its acquisition of DEC. He knew DeLia through Gentilucci. "I know that they worked together at First Security during the 1980s and early '90s," Guilmette said. "They knew each other well, knew each other's capabilities, and trusted one another to know that things would be done right. In this business you hire people that you know and trust. That's what I do."

Other evidence that Gentilucci and DeLia, now 56, knew each other comes from a Boston Herald wedding announcement published on Feb. 8, 1998, in which Gentilucci and DeLia were both reported to have been groomsmen. Also at the wedding was DeLia's lawyer, Kiernan, who served as best man.

"REAL PROFESSIONAL." Gentilucci's former boss at DEC, Raymond Humphrey, of Naples, Fla., remembers Gentilucci as a tough and thorough investigator, whose work included the usual corporate security matters like financial malfeasance and sexual harassment. But Humphrey said Gentilucci had also worked on a team investigating the illegal shipments of VAX computers, an expensive and sophisticated type, to Communist countries.

"This was during the height of the Cold War and there were stiff restrictions against sending VAX computers…to certain countries in the Communist bloc," Humphrey said. "When I hired Tony, we were investigating extremely sophisticated diversion methods that involved several different countries and 14 or 15 different cut-out companies."

Wesley Terrell of Townsend, Mass., is a third former corporate security employee who worked at DEC during the early 1990s. He worked at DEC from 1982 until 1998; he now works for Pinkerton Consulting, a unit of Securitas. "I know Tony very well," Terrell said. "He's a good guy and was my manager. He's a real professional." He declined to say anything else.

Prior to having worked for First Security, Guilmette says DeLia claimed to have served in the U.S. Army, including as many as 12 years with the Army's elite Criminal Investigative Division (CID). Another source familiar with information that DeLia gave about himself to potential clients remembers that DeLia claimed to have served with the Army CID for 12 years. The Defense Dept. couldn't immediately confirm DeLia's service record. Neither could the Army CID's central command in Fort Belvoir, Va.

DeLia is known to have worked as a private investigator in the early 1980s, when he was employed by First Security. He has been a member of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) since 1999. Gentilucci was a member of that organization from 1992 until 2001.

INVESTIGATION SUBCONTRACTING. And according to reports, DeLia launched his own firm in 1982 called Commercial & Industrial Services, which he eventually sold. In 1995, he opened a restaurant called the Grill & Cue, which didn't succeed and went bankrupt in 1997. The restaurant's failure led to a dispute with partners over taxes owed that, as of 2002, amounted to more than $58,000.

Guilmette said that after leaving DEC he worked for a startup firm in Boston. Prior to DEC, he was director of corporate security at Prime Computer in Natick, Mass., and in that capacity he hired First Security for contract security work. This is when he first met DeLia, who managed business operations for First Security. "I contracted guard services and investigation services through First Security. Ron was the manager, so he would have managed the processes for me," Guilmette says. DeLia's job at First Security involved overseeing contracts, and matching First Security employees to skills needed on each job. "He made sure the people with the right skills were doing the right jobs based on what was in the contract," Guilmette says.

In the case of the Kona II investigation, Morgan Lewis has said that Gentilucci gave DeLia's firm, SOS, the Social Security number for the HP employee, and that DeLia then handed that number to yet another outside firm, Action Research Group.


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