A former eBay Inc. security operations manager. has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in an extensive campaign to terrorize and intimidate the editor and publisher of an online newsletter
Philip Cooke pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses for his part in the settlement targeting a Massachusetts couple who published an online newsletter criticizing the online auction site.
Several other former eBay employees have also pleaded guilty to the scheme, which, according to prosecutors, included sending threatening online messages and disturbing deliveries — such as live cockroaches and a funeral wreath — to the couple’s home.
Prosecutors say Cooke, a retired police captain from Santa Clara, California, attended a meeting at eBay’s headquarters where employees planned to send harassing anonymous messages to one of the victims via Twitter. They say Cooke also tried to obstruct the police investigation into the plan.
Cooke’s lawyer wrote in court documents that his role in the campaign was “limited” and that he was trying to warn his colleagues not to send threatening messages or disrupt deliveries.
“He has accepted full responsibility for his misconduct, deeply regrets his poor choices and will do anything to make his life right,” his attorney, Susan Winkler, wrote.
The couple filed a lawsuit last week against the Silicon Valley giant, accusing it of being involved in a conspiracy to “intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence them.” to “stifle their reporting on eBay”.
In a statement responding to that lawsuit, eBay apologized to the couple and emphasized that it cooperated fully with authorities during their investigation.