Four of the seven former eBay employees charged in a bizarre alleged cyberstalking campaign aimed at a Natick couple that ran an online newsletter critical of the company have agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with the case, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The office of US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling announced the expected guilty pleas via Twitter.
“Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston,” Lelling’s office tweeted. “The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.”
The four defendants expected to plead guilty Oct. 8 are Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, Calif.; Stephanie Popp, 32, also of San Jose; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif.; and Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, legal filings show.
The four former employees are all charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness, according to legal filings.
Their lawyers either declined to comment or didn’t immediately return e-mail messages seeking responses Wednesday.
The defendants are accused of harassing and cyberstalking the husband-and-wife team, sending a host of disturbing items that included fly larvae, live spiders, and a bloody pig mask to their home and traveling to Massachusetts to surveil the couple to make them stop publishing their newsletter, prosecutors have said.
It was a “systematic campaign fueled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorize this middle-aged couple in Natick,” Lelling said during a June news conference.
That campaign included “anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims' home, including . . . a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving the loss of a spouse,” and pornography sent to neighbors but addressed to the husband, according to prosecutors.
Some executives allegedly “sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the victims in Natick,” prosecutors said. Some defendants also allegedly tried to install a GPS tracker in the couple’s vehicle.
In a previously released statement, eBay said it launched a “comprehensive investigation” of the matter with outside legal counsel once law enforcement informed them of the alleged harassment in August 2019.
An independent committee formed by eBay’s board of directors found the company “took these allegations very seriously from the outset. Upon learning of them, eBay moved quickly to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action,” the online retailer said.
“eBay apologizes to the affected individuals and is sorry that they were subjected to this. eBay holds its employees to high standards of conduct and ethics and will continue to take appropriate action to ensure these standards are followed,” the company said previously.
The employees were terminated. Lelling said in June that eBay has cooperated with federal investigators.