BOSTON — A former eBay Inc. executive was accused Thursday of leading a plot to terrorize creators of online newsletters, including sending live spiders, cockroaches, funeral wreaths and other disturbing deliveries to his home. and was sentenced to almost five years in prison.
David Steiner, who was targeted in a harassment campaign along with his wife, told court that former eBay senior director of safety and security James Baugh and other eBay employees had made their lives “hell on earth.” He expressed concern that other companies might use it as a blueprint for tracking journalists in the future.
“This was a bizarre and deliberate attack on our lives…a buy-in at eBay’s highest level,” Steiner told the judge.
Another former eBay executive, David Harville, was charged Thursday with being involved in a scheme targeting publishers and reporters David and Ina Steiner who angered executives by publishing an article about the company in the newsletter eCommerceBytes. was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment.
Baugh and Harville, former director of global resiliency at eBay, are among seven former employees who have pleaded guilty in the case.
Court records from the case show how eBay management was outraged by readers who posted comments critical of the company on Steiners’ newsletters and sites.
The scheme hatched after Ina Steiner wrote an article in August 2019 about a lawsuit filed by eBay for allegedly poaching sellers by Amazon. Half an hour after the article was published, her then-CEO, Devin Wenig, messaged another of her eBay executives, stating, “If you’re going to take her down, now is the time.” court documents say. Its executives sent Wenig’s message to Bo, calling Ina Steiner “a bigoted troll who needs to be burned out.”
Soon, Ina Steiner began receiving harassing and sometimes threatening Twitter messages. She began receiving strange, anonymous packages at the couple’s home, including boxes with live spiders, funeral wreaths, and books about surviving the loss of her spouse. Ina Steiner began receiving dozens of strange emails from groups such as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patient Support Group and the Communist Party of America, officials say.
Authorities described Bo as the mastermind behind the scheme, saying Bo instructed eBay employees to use prepaid debit cards, fake and offshore email accounts to hide the company’s involvement. I was.
Bo then lured Harville to go with him to Boston to spy on the couple, according to authorities. Baugh, Harville, and another of his eBay employees went to the couple’s home in hopes of installing a GPS tracker in their car, but the garage was locked, so Harville planned a break-in. He purchased the tools, prosecutors said.
Harville’s attorney said Harville was neither involved in nor aware of the threatening messages or deliveries sent by his colleagues.
In court documents, prosecutors said Harville did not attend the initial meeting regarding the plan, but said, “He was fully aware of the harassment by the time he was in Boston, and he was not allowed to carry a bag of human feces. I joked with Bo about the… and rats’ on their porch.
Baugh’s attorneys said their clients faced “intense and relentless pressure” from executives, including Wenig, to do something about Steiners. They called Baugh his “tool” eBay used and “an army of outside lawyers came to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ aimed at saving the company and its management from prosecution.” I explained that I threw it away at the time.
Wenig, who stepped down as CEO in 2019, has not faced criminal charges in the case, but faces civil lawsuits from the couple. He denied his knowledge of the harassment campaign. In court documents, his lawyer said the citation to “drop her off” was taken out of context and referred to “lawful actions, such as public rebuttals,” rather than “a series of bizarre acts.” He states that what he is referring to is “natural reasoning”. criminal activity. ”
“At this point, an independent investigation found that Mr. Wenig knew nothing and prosecutors in the case revealed that Beau was responsible. If he had known about it, he would have stopped it,” a Wenig spokesperson said in an email.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Seth Kost accused Bo of trying to deflect accusations, saying that no one above him on eBay “anonymously threatened him, harassed him, told him to stalk Steiner.” I didn’t,” he said.
The Steiners say the terrorist campaign has robbed them of their sense of security, with devastating consequences for their business and finances.
“What eBay — indicted and unindicted defendants and other co-conspirators — did to us changed me forever. I don’t think the old David will be back.” said David Steiner.
Both Bo and Harville apologized to Steiner for their actions before sentencing.
“I take 100% responsibility for this and have no excuses for what I did,” Bo said. If I had, I wouldn’t be here today.
https://www.npr.org/2022/09/30/1126078948/live-spiders-and-cockroaches-ex-ebay-executives-get-prison-time-in-harassment-pl Former eBay exec gets jail sentence for harassment plot : NPR