Live spiders, bloody pig masks sent: Ex-eBay manager convicted in harassment scheme
Published Tuesday 11 October 2022 22:06
A former eBay Inc. employee was sentenced Tuesday to a year behind bars for her role in a harassment scheme against creators of an online newsletter, which involved delivering live spiders, a bloodied pig mask and other disturbing items to their homes.
Stephanie Popp, 34, of Louisville, Kentucky, eBay’s senior executive for global intelligence, was sentenced to prison in a Boston federal court after pleading guilty to cyberstalking conspiracy and manipulation of conspiracy charges.
Stephanie Stockwell, 28, of Redwood City, Calif., a former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center, was also convicted Tuesday for her role in the scheme but avoided jail time. She was sentenced to two years probation, with the first year being house arrest.
They are among seven former eBay employees who have pleaded guilty to the plot that targeted a Massachusetts couple – David and Ina Steiner – who angered eBay executives by reporting on the company in their newsletter eCommerceBytes.
Stockwell and Popp reported to James Baugh, the former senior director of safety and security who authorities say was the program’s leader.
Baugh was sentenced to almost five years in prison last month. Another eBay executive who pleaded guilty to the case, David Harville, was sentenced to two years in prison.
Authorities say that eBay employees — at Baugh’s direction — sent anonymous harassing and sometimes threatening Twitter messages criticizing the newsletter’s coverage of eBay. The couple then began receiving disturbing deliveries to their home, including live bugs and a funeral wreath.
At one point, Baugh recruited Harville to go with him to Massachusetts to spy on the couple, authorities say. They went to the couple’s home hoping to install a GPS tracker on their car, but the garage was locked, so Harville bought tools with plans to break into it, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors called Popp one of the “guiltiest participants” in the scheme. She was involved in all aspects of the harassment campaign and “was aware of both its full extent and the impact it was having on her ‘shattered’ victims,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Prosecutors did not seek jail time for Stockwell, describing her as one of the least guilty. While she was involved in planning and shipping the packages, she had no part in the anonymous Twitter messages, prosecutors said.
Stockwell’s attorney said in court filings that Baugh manipulated, “terrorized and intimidated” her and others he supervised. Stockwell’s attorney said all of her actions were taken “at the direction or manipulation of Baugh” but that she “never wavered in her heartfelt remorse for participating in this ridiculous scheme.”
“The seeds of the tragedy that unfolded on eBay and caused chaos, heartache and fear” for the victims “spilled from Baugh’s bizarre, unorthodox, and frankly inappropriate and dangerous work environment,” Stockwell’s attorney wrote.
Popp’s attorney declined to comment Tuesday. An email was sent to a Stockwell attorney for comment.