When former eBay chief executive James Baugh of San Jose first launched a harassment campaign against a couple who published a newsletter critical of the e-commerce giant, Baugh suggested that his employees send the couple “scary masks, live insects, or embarrassing objects.” such as pornography and strippers,” the FBI said in the testimony. Minus the strippers, that’s what they sent – and even more.
Baugh, 47, pleaded guilty Monday to five counts of stalking, two counts of witness tampering and two counts of destroying, altering and falsifying records in a federal investigation. His sentencing in federal court in Massachusetts is scheduled for September 29. He was one of seven former eBay employees, including two former Santa Clara Police Department captains, who faced felony charges in connection with the campaign.
A Boston couple, Ina and David Steiner, who published an online shopping newsletter containing reports and comments critical of eBay, were “spooked” and suffered “substantial emotional distress” as a result of a year-long harassment campaign, sworn statement says .
At the first meeting at eBay’s San Jose headquarters to plan a campaign against the couple, Bow was joined by San Jose’s Stephanie Popp, eBay’s senior manager of global intelligence; Stephanie Stockwell of Redwood City, eBay analyst; Veronica Zea of Santa Clara, an intelligence analyst under contract to eBay, and three other intelligence analysts, according to sworn statements.
Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, gave further guidance to operatives by showing a clip from a 1988 movie called “Johnny Be Good” in which two friends arrange for hundreds of dollars worth of pizza to be delivered to their football coach’s home, an elephant, a stripper , exterminator and Hare Krishna missionaries, the affidavit says.
Beginning in August 2019, Bow’s team sent the Steiners a preserved pig embryo, a Halloween mask with a bloodied pig’s face, a how-to book on surviving the death of a spouse, a funeral wreath, pizza, and live maggots, spiders, and cockroaches. to the affidavit.
That same month, the pornographic magazines “Hustler: Barely Legal” arrived at the homes of two of the couple’s neighbors in the name of David Steiner, according to the sworn statement. A Craigslist advert for “singles/couples/swingers” and local college students was invited to the Steiners’ address for free drinks and “having a good time”, and shortly after, another Craigslist ad also featured the couple’s address, inviting guests for a threesome and bondage. to the affidavit. The harassment also included vulgar, offensive and threatening posts and messages on Twitter, the sworn letter said.
Baugh and others accused of conspiracy made several trips to Natick, Massachusetts, to monitor the Steiners, purchasing a GPS tracking device they planned to hide in their car, with Baugh practicing installing it on a similar car, according to testimony. under oath, which indicate the device was never planted because the couple noticed surveillance and contacted the police.
Although eBay’s sworn letter refers to “Executive 1” and “Executive 2” as members of the eBay executive team whose text messages sent prior to the harassment campaign included statements such as “take her off” regarding Ina Steiner, neither of the executives was accused. Court documents state that Executive 1 was former eBay CEO Devin Wenig, and Executive 2 was its head of public affairs, Steve Wymer, Recode. informed in 2020. Wenig, who resigned from eBay in September 2019, told Recode that the lyrics were “completely misinterpreted and completely out of context in some media reports” and that he gave “no direction” or “tacit approval” for the campaign. Wymer told Recode, “I would never condone or participate in such an activity.” eBay did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about Baugh’s guilty plea and any action he took against executives 1 and 2.
The Steiners, who launched the EcommerceBytes newsletter with Ina as reporter and editor and David as publisher, are suing eBay, Bowe, and six other former eBay employees, as well as Wenig and Wymer, alleging that the campaign caused them “fear in all my life”. Wymer, who left eBay in 2019, was fired by the company, according to the lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court. The Steiners demand unspecified damages.Baugh and six other eBay employees were arrested in June 2020. Philip Cook, another former Santa Clara police captain who worked as chief of security for eBay, was sentenced in July 2021 to 18 months in prison. Another former Santa Clara police captain, Brian Gilbert, along with Stephanie Popp, Veronica Zea and Stephanie Stockwell, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. David Harvill, eBay’s former director of global sustainability, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Bowe faces up to five years in prison on each of the five stalking charges and up to 20 years in prison on each of the other four charges. However, federal sentencing rules and judges’ discretion mean that maximum sentences are rarely handed down.