Their Scheme Made Couple's Life 'Hell.' Now, Prison Time

Ex-eBay execs sentenced to 24 months, 57 months for their role in harassment campaign
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2022 7:20 AM CDT
'Outrageous' Scheme Earns Ex-eBay Execs Prison Time
David Harville, left, arrives for sentencing in a cyberstalking case at Moakley Federal Court on Thursday in Boston.   (Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via AP)

Two former eBay executives are headed to prison for their role in a harassment and intimidation campaign against a Massachusetts couple whose newsletter reporting on the company angered its leadership. Reuters reports that 50-year-old David Harville, once eBay's chief of global resiliency, was sentenced Thursday to two years behind bars, as well as hit with a $20,000 fine, after pleading guilty to cyberstalking-related charges in May. James Baugh, 47, once the company's senior director of safety and security and the alleged mastermind of the scheme, saw an even harsher sentence: 57 months in prison, plus a $40,000 fine.

Baugh pleaded guilty to similar stalking charges in April, as well as charges of witness tampering and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation, per a release from the office of the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. On Thursday, US District Judge Patti Saris called the plot to harass David and Ina Steiner, who put out the "EcommerceBytes" newsletter, "extreme and outrageous," as well as "hard to imagine." Prosecutors said that, at Baugh's direction, the Steiners were sent odd emails, harassing messages online, and deliveries to their home such as spiders and cockroaches, a funeral wreath, and a book on how to survive the loss of a spouse.

"This was a bizarre, premeditated assault on our lives ... with buy-in at the highest levels of eBay," David Steiner told the court Thursday, adding that those who took part made his and his wife's life a "living hell," per the AP. Both Harville and Baugh apologized to the Steiners in court. Five others have also been charged in the scheme, though not ex-eBay CEO Devin Wenig, who prosecutors said had texted another exec in August 2019 that it was time to "take [Ina Steiner] down." Wenig has denied having any knowledge of the harassment against the Steiners, but they're suing him, as well as others they say were involved and the company itself. (More eBay stories.)

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