Ex-eBay execs heading to prison for harassing couple behind newsletter


Two former eBay Inc. security executives were jailed Thursday for leading a campaign to harass and intimidate a Massachusetts couple through threats and disrupting home deliveries after their online newsletter drew the ire of the company’s then-CEO would have.

Jim Baugh and David Harville were sentenced to 57 and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a widespread harassment campaign in which the couple were sent cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody Halloween pig mask.

US District Judge Patti Saris, who handed down the verdict during the Boston hearings, called it an “hard to imagine” scheme fueled by a “toxic culture” at the Silicon Valley e-commerce company.

“It was extreme and outrageous,” said Saris.

She ordered Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, and Harville, former director of global resiliency, to also pay fines of $40,000 and $20,000, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to cyberstalking charges .

In court, they each apologized to David and Ina Steiner, a couple in Natick, Massachusetts who edit the EcommerceBytes newsletter, and said they had been relentlessly terrorized by eBay employees.

“As agents of eBay, they made our life hell,” David Steiner told the judge.

Prosecutors said senior executives viewed the newsletter as critical of eBay, and in August 2019 then-CEO Devin Wenig texted another executive that it was time to “bring her down,” referring to Ina Steiner.

Little, a former Thomson Reuters executive who resigned as eBay CEO in September 2019, was not charged, but seven other people were. A spokesman said Little had “absolutely no knowledge” of the actions they had taken.

The campaign was overseen by Baugh, a former Central Intelligence Agency employee who his lawyer said felt pressured to take action.

At Baugh’s direction, the Steiners received anonymous, harassing Twitter messages, bizarre emails and unsolicited home deliveries such as spiders and a book about surviving the loss of a spouse, prosecutors said.

They said other eBay employees involved included Harville, whom Baugh recruited with a contractor for an “operation” to monitor the Steiners and attempt unsuccessfully to install a GPS in their car.

A lawsuit filed by the Steiners against eBay, Little and others is still pending.