Former eBay Execs Plead Guilty To Bizarre Harassment Campaign Involving Spiders

spider cute
Few enjoy being criticized but some respond in extreme ways. Ex-eBay executive David Harville has pleaded guilty to harassing a couple that was critical of his former employer. The harassment campaign included sending live spiders and other creatures to the targets.

Harville, eBay’s former director of global resiliency, is the last of seven eBay employees and executives to plead guilty to harassment. He pleaded guilty to five felony counts on Thursday. Harville and his co-conspirators targeted Ina and David Steiner, the couple behind the newsletter EcommerceBytes. The newsletter was critical of eBay and especially reproached the company for its lawsuit and general campaign against Amazon. Senior eBay executives asked Harville and other employees to “take her down.” The harassment campaign lasted from August 5, 2019 to August 23, 2020.

Harville and others first harassed the Steiner’s on Twitter and doxed their address. They then began to send the couple various horrible packages including a fetal pig, bloody pig face mask, cockroaches, live spiders, and a funeral wreath accompanied by a book about how to move on from the loss of a spouse.

ebay california
All of the above would have been cause for complaint but Harville and his partners allegedly took it to the next level. Reportedly, Harville flew from California to Boston where he planned to break into the Steiner’s garage and attach a GPS tracking device to their vehicle. Harville met James Baugh, eBay's former Senior Director of Safety & Security, for dinner before the break-in attempt. Harville and Baugh joked about leaving human feces on the Steiner’s porch. They then drove to the couple’s Massachusetts home to execute their plan. The Steiner’s spotted the surveillance vehicle and called the police.

The police began their investigation and soon were able to track Harville and Baugh to eBay. Furthermore, according to the United States Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts, “Baugh made false statements to police and internal investigators, deleted digital evidence related to the cyberstalking campaign and falsified records intended to throw the police off the trail.” Baugh also pleaded guilty at the end of April and currently awaits sentencing.

A report noted that former eBay employees and executives former eBay employees Philip Cooke, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Veronica Zea and Stephanie Stockwell have all pleaded guilty as well. Cooke was sentenced to 18 months in prison this past July. The remainder await sentencing and will likely face similar consequences. 

Image of San Jose, California eBay headquarters courtesy of eBay