NEW YORK: Six former eBay executives and employees sent a box of live cockroaches, a bloody pig mask and a funeral wreath to a couple they were harassing, US prosecutors alleged Monday.
The six stalked the editor and publisher of a newsletter after it carried an article critical of the company, US attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said in a statement.
They have been charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses, he added. The crimes each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors say the six began to orchestrate a three-fold harassment campaign in August 2019 after the alleged victims, from Natick, Massachusetts, published an article about litigation involving eBay.
“Several of the defendants ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, and pornography – the last of these addressed to the newsletter’s publisher but sent to his neighbours’ homes,” said the attorney’s statement.
The pig’s fetus was ordered but never sent following an inquiry from the seller, Lelling told reporters.
The defendants also sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticising the newsletter’s content.
They are also accused of carrying out covert surveillance on the couple, including trying to install a GPS tracking device on their car, and of visiting their home several times.
Their campaign began after two eBay executives sent or forwarded text messages suggesting that it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor, the prosecution alleges.
After the alleged victims alerted the police, the defendants allegedly tried to block the investigation by lying to officers and forging documents.
The charged were named as James Baugh, 45, David Harville, 48, Stephanie Popp, 32, Stephanie Stockwell, 26, Veronica Zea, 26, and Brian Gilbert, 51.
Baugh is eBay’s former senior director of safety and security while Harville is a former director of global resiliency at the company.
eBay said in a statement that it terminated the employment of all of the accused in September 2019 following an internal investigation.
“eBay apologises to the affected individuals and is sorry that they were subjected to this,” it added.