WTF?! In what sounds like something penned by a Hollywood screenwriter, the last of seven former eBay employees has pleaded guilty to his part in a harassment campaign against a couple. It brings an end to a case that involved a pig fetus, live insects, and doxing.
The bizarre situation began in 2019 when Ina and David Steiner published an article in their EcommerceBytes newsletter that painted eBay in a negative light; the piece was about the auction site launching a lawsuit that accused Amazon of poaching sellers.
In response to the criticism, seven higher-level eBay employees—David Harville, James Baugh, Stephanie Popp, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Stockwell, Veronica Zea, and Philip Cooke—devised a harassment campaign against the couple.
The group's retaliation against the Steiners involved sending them a preserved fetal pig, live spiders and cockroaches, and a funeral wreath. Fake social media accounts were also created to harass the pair online and post their address.
The Department of Justice charged the employees in 2020. Harville, a former director of global resiliency, has become the last of the accused to admit their involvement in the harassment campaign. Prosecutors say that at one point, Harville took a flight from California to the Steiners' home in Boston, where he bought tools to break into the couple's garage and install a GPS tracker on their car.
Last summer, the Steiners sued eBay and several employees, including former CEO Devin Wenig. Wenig, who left his position as eBay CEO in 2019, was not charged in the criminal case and has denied any knowledge of the campaign.
Harville pleaded guilty to five felony counts in a video call before a Boston federal court last week. Cooke was the first to be convicted in the case last summer when a federal judge sentenced him to 18 months behind bars. Popp, Stockwell, Zea, and Gilbert all pleaded guilty in 2020, while Baugh pleaded guilty in April and faces up to 20 years imprisonment when sentenced on September 29, 2022.