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Former eBay director pleads guilty to harassing critics with live insects

eBay’s former executive of global resiliency David Harville pleaded guilty to participating in a bizarre harassment campaign which involved sending live cockroaches, spiders, a bloody pig face mask, and other strange items to a Massachusetts couple, according to The Guardian. Harville is one of the seven eBay employees to plead guilty to harassing and stalking the couple.

In 2020, the Co-conspirators and former eBay employees were charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with a harassment campaign. The former employees are Philip Cooke, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Veronica Zea and Stephanie Stockwell. The former eBay employees’ scheme was meant to intimidate the Steiners over their publication’s negative coverage of eBay. They harassed the Steiners on a social media platform and exposed their address online, but later went on mailing gross items to their home and in person.

Harville pleaded guilty during a Thursday video call with a Boston federal court judge. According to the Original filing, the six former eBay employees were charged with an aggressive cyberstalking campaign targeting the Natick couple. The alleged harassment includes threatening messages and unwanted and gruesome deliveries to the couple. Harville wasn’t the only one involved either. Popp served as eBay’s former senior manager of global intelligence, Gilbert was the ex-senior manager of special operations, Baugh worked as eBay’s senior director of safety and security, and Stockwell was a former manager for the company’s global intelligence centre.

Baugh and his associates were charged with conspiracy for travelling to Natick to monitor the couple and allegedly purchasing a GPS tracking device that they installed on the couple’s car, in addition to letter and internet harassment.

The Steiners were suspicious and called the police, believing a vehicle was following them, only to be told it was a joke. The Steiner’s lawyer soon discovered that it wasn’t a joke but rather an effort to psychologically and emotionally punish the couple. The car was then tracked to a rental car, which was checked out by Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, a former eBay employee who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC, and Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team.

In the campaign’s second phase, some defendants allegedly sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the victims in Natick, thereby denting their image on the social media platform.

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The document alleged that Baugh, Gilbert, Popp and another eBay security employee all planned these messages in other to disturb and place them in the spotlight negatively by publishing their home address. It was also alleged that the same group of people intended then to have Gilbert, a former Santa Clara Police captain, approach the victims in a pretentious act with an offer to help the victims stop the public harassment that they were involved secretly, to promote eBay and generate favourable coverage in the newsletter, and to identify the individuals behind the anonymous comments.

Baugh, Harville, and Zea (and subsequently Popp) allegedly drove to the victim’s garage in August 2019 and planted a GPS tracking device on his automobile. Baugh, Gilbert, Popp, and Stockwell allegedly conspired to create another eBay “person of interest” document that the cops may use as a tip on some of the harassing deliveries. The defendants allegedly erased digital evidence that revealed they were involved as the lawyers continued their inquiry, tampering with and impeding what had already become a federal investigation.

eBay has yet to comment on the charges of cyberstalking brought against six of its employees.

eBay has not commented on the matter, although it cooperates with law enforcement. A federal district court judge can impose sentences of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution based on the US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors for conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.

U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Natick chief of police James G. Hicks made the announcement today. eBay provided valuable assistance and cooperation with the federal investigation.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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