A former eBay Inc security executive was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in prison for leading a crusade to harass a Massachusetts couple with threats and troubling home delivery after their online newsletter sparked the ire of the then CEO of the e-mail company. commerce company.
Jim Baugh, 47, was convicted by U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston for conducting what she called an elaborate campaign of intimidation fueled by eBay’s “toxic culture” that involved sending the couple cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloodied Halloween pig mask.
“It was extreme and outrageous, the kind of thing we don’t see in civilized society,” Saris said.
Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, must also pay a $40,000 fine after pleading guilty to cyberstalking-related charges. He agreed to plead guilty earlier in the year.
“There is no excuse for what has been done,” he said.
From Baugh’s admission of guilt in April:
Former eBay executive pleads guilty to his role in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a married couple from Natick, Mass. https://t.co/7BjU9rr4dE
It was the harshest sentence yet in the scandal, which saw a total of seven former eBay employees indicted for a campaign targeting David and Ina Steiner, a married couple in Natick, Massachusetts, who produce the EcommerceBytes newsletter.
Another former director, David Harville, will be sentenced later Thursday.
Prosecutors said senior executives viewed the newsletter as critical of eBay, and in August 2019, then-CEO Devin Wenig sent another executive that it was time to “take her down,” referring to Ina Steiner.
Wenig, a former director of Thomson Reuters who stepped down as CEO of eBay in September 2019, was not charged. A spokesman said he was “absolutely unaware of the actions of Mr. Baugh and the others.”
Baugh oversaw the campaign, previously working for the Central Intelligence Agency, protecting Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and, in one case, now President Joe Biden when he was vice president.
At Baugh’s direction, the Steiners received anonymous, harassing Twitter messages, bizarre emails and unwanted home deliveries such as spiders, and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, prosecutors said.
It was also alleged that pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on them were sent to a neighbor’s home, and a Craigslist ad was posted inviting interested parties to sexual encounters at the victims’ home.
Open civil case
Prosecutors said other eBay employees involved were Harville, who recruited Baugh along with a contractor for an “operation” to patrol the Steiners and unsuccessfully try to install a GPS on their car.
EBay apologized to the Steiners last year.
“The misconduct of these former employees was wrong, and we will do what is fair and appropriate to try to address what the Steiners went through,” the company said. “The events of 2019 should never have happened, and as eBay informed the Steiners, we are deeply sorry for what they endured.”
The couple has sued the company and Wenig, among others, with the Boston Globe reporting in the spring that attempts to settle the lawsuit out of court have so far failed.