By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – A former eBay Inc security executive pleaded guilty on Thursday to participating in a campaign to harass a Massachusetts couple who ran an online newsletter that involved sending them disturbing home deliveries like cockroaches and a funeral wreath.
David Harville, the company’s former director of global resiliency, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to five conspiracy and stalking counts, becoming the last of seven ex-eBay workers charged in the case to admit wrongdoing.
Harville, 50, had been slated to face trial on May 31 before striking a plea deal. His plea came two weeks after Harville’s co-defendant, Jim Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, likewise pleaded guilty.
The two men were charged along with five other former eBay workers in 2020 with participating in an extensive campaign to harass and intimidate the married couple in Natick, Massachusetts, behind the online newsletter EcommerceBytes.
They did so after two top executives, including former Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig, expressed frustration with the newsletter, which they saw as critical of the company, according to prosecutors and a lawsuit the couple, David and Ina Steiner, filed against eBay.
Wenig was not charged and has denied knowing about the scheme. Settlement talks between eBay and the Steiners have been “unsuccessful,” the couple’s lawyer said in a Saturday court filing.
Prosecutors said the Steiners in August 2019 began receiving anonymous, harassing private messages on Twitter and unwanted and disturbing deliveries to their home that also included a bloody pig mask.
Prosecutors said Harville traveled to Massachusetts with others for what Baugh called an “op” to watch the couple and try unsuccessfully to install a GPS on their car.
Harville faces sentencing on Oct. 6 and faces 41 to 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Kosto said. Defense lawyer Peter Levitt said he would argue for less.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Richard Chang)