(Reuters) – A former eBay Inc. security chief intends to plead guilty to federal charges that he planned a cyber-stalking campaign targeting a couple in Massachusetts whose online newsletter was seen as critical of the e-commerce company.
James Baugh, eBay’s former head of security and safety, had been awaiting trial in Boston with another ex-boss accused of helping harass the couple via Twitter and with disruptive deliveries such as a bloody Halloween pig mask and live cockroaches.
At the request of Baugh’s lawyers, a federal judge on Tuesday scheduled a hearing so that he would instead plead guilty on April 25. A trial on May 31 is still planned for his co-defendant, David Harville, eBay̵7;s former head of global resiliency.
William Fick, lawyer for Mr. Baugh, declined to comment.
Baugh is one of seven former eBay workers accused in 2020 of harassing the married couple in Natick, Massachusetts, behind the EcommerceBytes newsletter.
They did so after two top executives, including former CEO Devin Wenig
expressed frustration with the newsletter, according to prosecutors and a lawsuit filed by the couple, David and Ina Steiner, against eBay.
Prosecutors said in August 2019, Steiners began receiving anonymous, harassing private messages on Twitter and disruptive deliveries to their homes that also included fly larvae, spiders and a funeral wreath.
Prosecutors said Baugh planned the threatening messages and deliveries with employees and contractors who reported to him and traveled with some to Massachusetts to monitor the couple.
After learning that the Natick police were investigating, Baugh and other messages were deleted from his social media accounts, and he lied to eBay investigators by denying that its employees were involved, prosecutors said.
Five other former eBay workers have pleaded guilty. Mr. Wenig was not prosecuted and has denied that he knew about the scheme. eBay has said it is in conciliation talks with the couple.