Ex-eBay execs get prison time for bizarre harassment scheme

BOSTON (AP) — A former eBay Inc. executive was given an almost five-year jail sentence on Thursday for organizing a plot to frighten the owners of an online newsletter by delivering live spiders, cockroaches, a casket, and other unsettling items to their house.

David Steiner, who along with his wife was the target of the harassment campaign, testified in court that James Baugh, the former Senior Director of Safety and Security at eBay, and other eBay employees made their lives “a living hell,” and he expressed concern that other companies would use it as a model to harass journalists in the future.

“This was a strange, planned attack on our lives … with purchase in at the most elevated levels of eBay,” Steiner told the appointed authority.

Another previous eBay leader, David Harville, was condemned later Thursday to two years in a correctional facility for his job in the plan focusing on David and Ina Steiner, the distributer and journalist who enraged chiefs with inclusion of the organization in their pamphlet, eCommerceBytes.

Baugh and Harville, eBay’s onetime head of worldwide flexibility, are among seven previous representatives who have conceded to charges for the situation.

Court records for the situation show how the top eBay leaders became maddened by the Steiners’ bulletin and perusers who posted remarks censuring the organization on their site, which eBay saw as a danger to its business.

The plan was incubated in August 2019 after Ina Steiner composed a tale about a claim brought by eBay blaming Amazon for poaching its venders. A half-hour after the article was distributed, then-President Devin Wenig sent another top eBay leader a message saying: “In the event that you are truly going to bring her down … this is the ideal opportunity,” as per court archives. That leader sent Wenig’s message to Baugh and considered Ina Steiner a “one-sided savage who needs to get Burned to the ground.”

Before long, Ina Steiner started getting bothering and here and there undermining Twitter messages. Strange mysterious bundles began showing up at the couple’s home, including a case of live insects, a burial service wreath and a book about enduring the departure of a companion. Ina Steiner started getting many odd messages from bunches like a crabby inside condition patient care group and the Socialist Coalition of the US, specialists say.

Specialists depicted Baugh as the genius of the plan and said he guided eBay representatives to utilize pre-loaded charge cards, masks and abroad email records to conceal the organization’s inclusion.

Baugh then, at that point, enrolled Harville to go with him to Boston to keep an eye on the few, specialists say. Baugh, Harville and one more eBay representative went to the couple’s home with expectations of introducing a GPS tracker on their vehicle yet the carport was locked, so Harville purchased instruments with an arrangement to break into it, examiners say.

Harville’s lawyers said he had no association in or information about the compromising messages or conveyances sent by his partners.

Examiners said in court reports that in spite of the fact that Harville wasn’t at the underlying gatherings about the plan, “he knew enough of the provocation when he was in Boston to mess with Baugh about conveying a sack of human dung, a running trimming tool, and a rodent” to their patio.

Baugh’s legal advisors said their client had confronted “serious, steady tension” from chiefs — including Wenig — to take care of the Steiners. They portrayed Baugh as a utilized “device by eBay and afterward disposed of when “a multitude of outside legal counselors slipped to lead an ‘inward examination’ pointed toward saving the organization and its top chiefs from indictment.”

Wenig, who ventured down as Chief in 2019, was not criminally charged for the situation but rather faces a common claim from the couple. He has kept any information from getting the provocation crusade. In court papers, his legal counselors have said the “bring her down” quote was taken outside the current discussion and that the “normal surmising” is that he’s alluding to taking “legitimate activity, like a public rejoinder,” not “a progression of strange lawbreaker acts.”

“Right now, a free examination has said that Mr. Wenig had no information and the examiners for the situation have clarified that Baugh was mindful. Devin never advised anybody to do anything unscrupulous or unlawful and on the off chance that he had some significant awareness of it, he would have halted it,” a representative for Wenig said in an email.

Aide U.S. Lawyer Seth Kosto blamed Baugh for attempting to avoid fault, saying that nobody above him at eBay “advised him to compromise and hassle and tail the Steiners secretly.”

The Steiners say the fear crusade took their feeling of safety and made destroying outcomes their business and funds.

“What eBay — the litigant and other co-plotters, both arraigned and unindicted — did to us has transformed me always and I don’t think the old David is returning,” David Steiner said.

Both Baugh and Harville apologized to the Steiners for their activities before their sentences were given over. Baugh told the Steiners he trusts that they will excuse him sometime in the future.

“I assume a sense of ownership with this, and there is not any justification for what I have done,” Baugh said. “The primary concern is basically this: Assuming I had made the best choice and been sufficiently able to pursue the ideal decision, we wouldn’t be here today, and for that I am really grieved.”

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