Former eBay executives headed to prison for harassing couple who criticized company

BOSTON — High-ranking former employees of eBay were sentenced to prison for a harassment scheme that terrorized a couple for a newsletter they published, which criticized the company.

Former eBay Senior Director of Safety and Security James Baugh and other eBay employees were sentenced on Thursday for leading a scheme to harass a Natick, Massachusetts, couple in 2019.

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According to The Associated Press, Baugh was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for targeting David and Ina Steiner, creators of an online newsletter that wrote a story that was critical of eBay.

David Harville, another former eBay executive, was sentenced to two years for his role in the scheme, according to AP.

In 2020, a release from a federal investigation listed co-conspirators who had been charged in connection with the scheme. The release included the following people:

  • Stephanie Popp, 32, former senior manager of global intelligence.
  • Stephanie Stockwell, 26, former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center.
  • Veronica, Zea, 26, former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC.
  • Brian Gilbert, 51, a former senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team.

According to a release, the campaign began in August 2019 after the Natick couple published an issue of their newsletter containing an article about a lawsuit against eBay. Officials said that’s when the company’s executive leadership team sent messages to one other saying it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor.

FBI investigators said the eBay team sent the couple a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse. Investigators said the group also ordered pornography addressed to the newsletter’s editor but had it delivered to their neighbors.

The FBI said the executives also messaged the couple via Twitter private messages, becoming increasingly threatening.

“What (is) itgoing to take for you to answer me, guess I’m going to have to get your attention another way (expletive),” one of the messages said, according to the FBI.

According to the FBI, a second part of the harassment was to send Brian Gilbert, a former Santa Clara police captain, to contact the couple and offer to help them stop the harassment. At that point, investigators said the eBay group published personal information about the couple.

eBay’s security team registered for a software conference in Boston and then allegedly visited the defendant’s house under the guise of investigating them for threats against eBay executives. Once the company learned about the investigation, the FBI said the participants conspired to lie to investigators about it.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in 2020 that eBay cooperated in the investigation with federal officials.

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