The former employees are accused of sending threatening messages to the couple, as well as unsolicited packages that include a mask that should look like a bloody pig, fly larvae, live spiders and boxes of cockroaches. According to court documents, they also addressed the Craigslist couple’s address and invited singles, couples and swings to knock on their door “at any time of the day or night.” Prosecutors also accused several former employees of flying from California to the couple’s home in Massachusetts to “inspect” them and even tried to break into their garage to install a GPS tracker on their vehicle.
“We’ve never seen a company do something like this before,” Lelling said. “One could talk about Silicon Valley culture aggressively dealing with the brand.”
Former employees on eBay include David Harville, 48, a former director of Global Resiliency, and 45-year-old James Baugh, a former senior director of security and protection. Other defendants include Stephanie Popp, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea. Gilbert was previously a California police captain, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Baugh and Harville were both arrested on Monday, and are expected to first appear in court later Monday in California and New York, respectively, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The other four defendants are not in custody, but are expected to appear in federal court in Boston later. All six defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit a cyber-attack and conspiracy to touch witnesses.
Prosecutors said Baugh directed Popp, Stockwell, Zea and other unnamed employees to anonymously harass the couple in order to distract them and make them uncomfortable to the point where they would “stop writing negative articles about eBay,” according to a criminal complaint against Baugh and Harville.
Zea’s lawyer had no comment on the charges. CNN contacted attorneys for the other five defendants.
The criminal complaint states that employees were encouraged to target the couple after eBay executives were unhappy about the company’s coverage and the unnamed CEO, including the message, “We’re bothering this lady.”
The defendants’ plan, prosecutors claim, was to harass the couple anonymously, and then eBay representatives offered to help the couple, “creating goodwill toward eBay.”
The statement said the eBay board of directors set up a special committee to investigate the case with the help of an outside law firm and that the company cooperated fully and well with the authorities.
“eBay does not tolerate such behavior. eBay apologizes to affected individuals and regrets that they have been subjected to it. eBay keeps its employees on high standards of conduct and ethics and will continue to take appropriate action to ensure that these standards are met,” it said. in a statement.
In a statement, eBay said an internal investigation by Devin Wenig, chief executive at the time of the incident, found that his communications were inappropriate, but that “there is no evidence that he knew in advance or approved actions that were later directed at the blogger and her husband. ”
CNN tried to contact Wenig for comment.