Four former senior eBay employees who participated in an intimidation campaign aimed at silencing a Massachusetts couple who ran a newsletter criticising the E-commerce giant have agreed to plead guilty to cyberstalking charges, authorities have said.
"Four former employees of eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on October 8 at 2pm via Zoom in federal court in Boston," read a tweet from the Massachusetts Attorney General's office on Wednesday. "The defendants are charged with participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple."
The four ex-staffers, each of whom held security roles, form part of a group of seven former eBay employees who "terrorised" the couple at their home in Natick, a small town about 23 miles west of Boston. Items sent to the couple's home included live cockroaches and spiders, and a bloody Halloween pig mask.
The employees also sent pornographic magazines with the husband's name on them to their neighbour's house and planned to break into the couple's garage to install a GPS device on their car, officials said. A funeral wreath was also sent to the couple's Natick property.
Stephanie Popp, former senior manager of global intelligence; Brian Gilbert, former senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team; Stephanie Stockwell, former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center; and Veronica Zea a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the Global Intelligence Center are all expected to plead guilty, The Associated Press reported.
The group waged its intimidation campaign from thousands of miles away in California. Each of them lives in San Jose — where eBay's head office is based — except for Stockwell, who lives in Redwood City, California.
Popp’s attorney declined a Reuters request for comment. Other defence lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
The group carried out the campaign after executives at eBay expressed their frustration with the couple's newsletter. The suspects engaged in a “systematic campaign fuelled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorise this middle-aged couple in Natick,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a news conference when charges were announced in June.
One of the executives was former chief executive Devin Wenig, who a person familiar with the matter confirmed is the “Executive 1” identified in charging documents.
Prosecutors said that Mr Wenig texted the other executive after the newsletter’s editor published an article about eBay saying it was time to “take her down”.
Mr Wenig has not been charged and has denied directing or knowing anything about the scheme. He is a member of General Motors Co's GM.N board.
A spokesman for Wenig did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The four expected to plead guilty were first charged in June.
Additional reporting by agencies