BOSTON – Two former eBay, Inc. executives were indicted today by a federal grand jury in Boston in connection with their roles in a cyberstalking campaign targeting the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company.
James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif., eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety & Security, and David Harville, 48, of New York City, eBay’s former Director of Global Resiliency, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit stalking through interstate travel and through facilities of interstate commerce, two counts each of stalking through interstate travel, two counts of stalking through facilities of interstate commerce, two counts (Baugh) and one count (Harville) of witness tampering, and two counts (Baugh) and one count (Harville) of destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation. Baugh and Harville were previously charged by criminal complaint and arrested on June 15, 2020.
Co-conspirators and former eBay employees Philip Cooke, 55, Brian Gilbert, 52, Stephanie Popp, 32, Veronica Zea, 26, and Stephanie Stockwell, 26, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
According to the charging document, the victims of the cyberstalking campaign were a Natick couple who are the editor and publisher of an online newsletter that covers ecommerce companies, including eBay. Members of eBay’s executive leadership team followed the newsletter’s posts, often taking issue with its content and the anonymous comments underneath the editor’s stories.
It is alleged that in August 2019, the defendants and their co-conspirators executed a three-part harassment campaign targeting the Natick couple, which included the defendants sending anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home; sending private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the victims in Natick; and traveling to Natick to surveil the victims and install a GPS tracking device on their car.
Among other things, the indictment alleges that Baugh convened meetings to plan and coordinate the various parts of the harassment campaign; directed Harville to travel with him to Boston for an “op” targeting the victims and their website; directed Stockwell to “make up” allegations that the victims had made direct threats to eBay, the company’s CEO and its employees as cover in case the surveillance team was stopped; and posed as Zea’s husband when a Natick Police detective arrived in the lobby of Boston’s Ritz Carlton hotel to investigate eBay’s connection to the harassment campaign.
Among other things, the indictment alleges that Harville flew from California to Boston intending to place the victims under surveillance; attempted to install a GPS tracking device on the victims’ car; purchased tools intending to break in to the victims’ garage; lied to an eBay investigator who was responding to the Natick Police’s request for assistance; and deleted evidence from his company-issued cell phone after learning of the criminal investigation.
The charges of conspiracy to commit stalking and stalking each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. The charges of witness tampering and destruction, alteration and fabrication of records in a federal investigation each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. The witness tampering charges also carry the potential for forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States 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. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit, is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.