Ex-eBay exec pleads guilty to harassing couple whose newsletter raised ire

On Monday, a former eBay Inc security officer admitted to harassing a Massachusetts couple who published a newsletter by sending anonymous messages on Twitter and delivering a bloodied pig mask and live insects to their house.

In federal court in Boston, Jim Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, pleaded guilty to nine counts, including conspiracy, stalking via interstate travel, and witness tampering.

Baugh is one of seven former eBay employees accused of harassing the married pair behind the EcommerceBytes newsletter in Natick, Massachusetts, in 2020.

According to authorities and a lawsuit brought by David and Ina Steiner against eBay, they did so after two key officials, including former Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig, voiced dissatisfaction with the newsletter.

Wenig was not charged and has stated that he was unaware of the plot. A request for comment on the guilty plea was not immediately returned by an eBay spokeswoman.

Baugh and another former eBay executive, David Harville, the company’s former director of global resiliency, were scheduled to go to trial on May 31.

According to federal sentencing guidelines, Baugh, 47, faces a sentence of 57 to 71 months in prison, according to Assistant US Attorney Seth Kosto. Baugh’s lawyer, William Fick, said he will seek for a lower penalty. The date for sentencing has been set for September 29.

Prosecutors claim that in August 2019, the Steiners began receiving anonymous, harassing private messages on Twitter, as well as “unwanted and disturbing” items to their house, including a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, according to Kosto.

Prosecutors said Baugh held meetings with workers who reported to him to plan the messages and deliveries, and that he traveled to Massachusetts with some of them to watch the couple and try unsuccessfully to install a GPS in their car.

Baugh and others removed posts from their social media accounts after discovering that Natick police were investigating, and they denied to eBay investigators that any of its employees were participating, according to authorities.

eBay Inc., based in San Jose, California, is an American global e-commerce organization that enables consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales through its website. Pierre Omidyar launched eBay in 1995, and it quickly became a renowned dot-com success story. As of 2019, eBay is a multibillion-dollar company with operations in about 32 countries.

The corporation runs the eBay website, which is an online auction and shopping platform where people and businesses from all over the world can buy and sell a wide range of goods and services. Buyers can access the site for free, but sellers must pay a price to list products after a certain amount of free listings have been used, as well as an additional or separate fee when those items are sold.