After a weird EcommerceBytes harassment case, the final ex-EBay employee involved has pleaded guilty

David Harville, one of seven former eBay employees involved in a campaign to harass the creators of a newsletter critical of the e-commerce company, pleaded guilty to five federal felony charges earlier this week, putting an end to one of the most bizarre episodes in recent technological history. The other six former eBay employees involved in the campaign are still at large.

The United States Department of Justice filed charges against six former employees of eBay, including Harville, in June of 2020 for conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. Harville was one of the individuals charged. According to a report by the Associated Press on Thursday, Harville was the last employee of the group to admit involvement in the harassment campaign that targeted Ina and David Steiner.

In 2019, the couple from Massachusetts wrote an article about litigation involving eBay for their EcommerceBytes newsletter. In retaliation for what the organisation perceived to be unfavourable coverage of the company, they launched a harassment campaign against the couple. As part of this effort, they sent the couple a preserved foetal pig, live spiders, and a funeral wreath, among other things. They also made fictitious identities on several social media platforms in order to communicate threats to the Steiner family and publish their residence publicly.

According to the initial filing made by the Department of Justice in the year 2020, one aspect of Harville’s involvement in the campaign included a scheme to install a GPS tracking device on the Steiner family vehicle. Harville, along with one of the other former employees charged in the scheme, James Baugh, carried with them fake documents that were allegedly designed to show that the two were investigating the Steiners for threatening eBay executives. The documents were allegedly carried by Harville and James Baugh.

A federal judge handed down a sentence of 18 months in prison to Philip Cooke in July of last year. Cooke was the first of seven former employees to be convicted in connection with the scheme. The United States District Judge Allison Burroughs commented at the time that the entire case was “simply insane.” During the same summer, the Steiners filed a lawsuit against numerous employees of eBay, including the company’s former CEO Devin Wenig, accusing them of participating in a conspiracy to “intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorise, stalk, and silence them.” Wenig has stated that he was unaware of the initiative and has denied any involvement.

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