© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The eBay app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – A former eBay Inc (NASDAQ:) security executive pleaded guilty on Monday to harassing a Massachusetts couple who authored a newsletter by arranging anonymous messages on Twitter (NYSE:) and home deliveries that included a bloody pig mask and live insects.
Jim Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to nine counts including conspiracy, stalking through interstate travel and witness tampering.
Baugh is one of seven former eBay workers who were charged in 2020 with harassing the married couple in Natick, Massachusetts, behind the newsletter EcommerceBytes.
They did so after two top executives, including former Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig, expressed frustration with the newsletter, 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. An eBay spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the guilty plea.
Baugh had been set to go to trial on May 31 with another former eBay executive, David Harville, its former director of global resiliency.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Kosto said Baugh, 47, faces 57 to 71 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. William Fick, Baugh’s lawyer, said he would argue for less. Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 29.
Prosecutors said the Steiners in August 2019 began receiving anonymous, harassing private messages on Twitter and what Kosto said were “unwanted and disturbing” deliveries to their home that also included a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.
Prosecutors said Baugh convened meetings to plan the messages and deliveries with workers who reported to him and traveled with some to Massachusetts to watch the couple and try unsuccessfully to install a GPS on their car.
After learning Natick police were investigating, Baugh and others deleted messages from their social media accounts, and denied to eBay investigators that its employees were involved, prosecutors said.