Former eBay executives were sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in a “bizarre” cyberstalking campaign to intimidate a Natick, Massachusetts, couple after they posted critical comments about the online retailer.
James Baugh, of San Jose, California, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine.
“I take 100% responsibility for this, and there is no excuse,” Baugh said at sentencing. “I’m sorry that I hurt you when I should have been protecting you.”
Ina and David Steiner, the editor and publisher of the blog eCommerceBytes, an online publication that covers e-commerce companiesincluding eBay, were the target of a bizarre series of threatening incidents beginning in August of 2019.
The couple said they were sent disturbing items, including live bugs, a bloody pig mask, a funeral wreath and a book about coping with the loss of a spouse.
When the first incidents occurred, the Steiners said they did not know who was behind the threats. They said it took nearly a year before they discovered the scope and the source of the situation.
“This was a deliberate attempt to destroy us,” Ina Steiner said at Baugh’s sentencing.
“This was a bizarre, premeditated assault on our lives,” David Steiner added.
In addition to Baugh, David Harville, 48, of New York City, eBay’s former director of global resilience, was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. Harville also spied on the Steiners and tried to break into their garage to install a GPS tracker on their car.
He was sentenced to 24 months.
In 2020, former eBay security supervisor Philip Cooke, a former police captain in Santa Clara, California, who worked for Baugh, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In 2020, four other former eBay employees agreed to plead guilty in connection with the case. They are expected to be sentenced in the coming weeks.
eBay’s former CEO Devin Wenig left the company about three months after the cyberstalking campaign began. Wenig is not charged and has denied all wrongdoing.
His lawyers say a “take down” comment she made about the Steiners was never intended to lead to anything like what happened to them.
“We think it goes much further. We think the evidence will be there to suggest that it is a conspiracy that comes from the top down,” said Rosemary C. Scapicchio, Steiner’s attorney.
The sentencings mark the end of the criminal court proceedings, but the Steiners plan a civil suit.