Live spiders, bloody pig masks sent: Ex-eBay execs sentenced in harassment scheme

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

A former eBay Inc. employee was sentenced Tuesday to one year behind bars for her role in a harassment scheme targeting creators of an online newsletter that included the delivery of live spiders, a bloody pig mask and other disturbing items to their home.

Stephanie Popp, 34, of Louisville, Kentucky, who was eBay’s senior manager of global intelligence, was sentenced to prison in Boston federal court after pleading guilty to cyberstalking conspiracy and witness tampering conspiracy charges.

Stephanie Stockwell, 28, of Redwood City, California, former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center, was also sentenced on Tuesday for her role in the scheme, but avoided prison time. She was ordered to serve two years of probation, with the first year in home confinement.

They are among seven former eBay employees who have pleaded guilty in the scheme targeting a Massachusetts couple — David and Ina Steiner — who angered eBay executives with coverage of the company in their newsletter, eCommerceBytes.

Stockwell and Popp reported to James Baugh, the former senior director of safety and security, who authorities say was the leader of the scheme.

Baugh was sentenced last month to almost five years behind bars. Another eBay executive who pleaded guilty in the case, David Harville, was sentenced to two years in prison.

Authorities say eBay employees — at Baugh’s direction — sent anonymous harassing and sometimes threatening Twitter messages criticizing the newsletter’s coverage of eBay. The couple then started getting disturbing deliveries at their home, including live insects and a funeral wreath.

At one point, Baugh recruited Harville to go with him to Massachusetts to spy on the couple, authorities say. They went to the couple’s home in the hopes of installing a GPS tracker on their car but the garage was locked, so Harville bought tools with a plan to break into it, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors called Popp one of the “most culpable participants” in the scheme. She was involved in all aspects of the harassment campaign and “knew both its full extent and the effect that it was having on its ‘rattled’ victims,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

Prosecutors did not seek prison time for Stockwell, describing her as among the least culpable. While she was involved in the planning and sending of the packages, she had no part in the anonymous Twitter messages, prosecutors said.

Stockwell’s attorney said in court papers that Baugh manipulated, “terrorized and intimidated” her and others he supervised. Stockwell’s lawyer said all her actions were undertaken “at the direction of, or manipulation by, Baugh,” but she has “never wavered in her heartfelt remorse for having participated in this ludicrous scheme.”

“The seeds of the tragedy that unfolded at eBay causing havoc, heartache, and fear” for the victims “disseminated from Baugh’s bizarre, unorthodox and frankly, inappropriate and dangerous work environment,” Stockwell’s attorney wrote.

Popp’s attorney declined to comment on Tuesday. An email seeking comment was sent to a lawyer for Stockwell.