By Maria Armental
A retired police captain who oversaw security operations at eBay Inc.'s European and Asian offices has been charged in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a couple whom eBay executives viewed as critical of the company, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Philip Cooke, 55 years old, is the seventh former eBay employee charged in the alleged cyberstalking campaign against a Massachusetts couple who publish an e-commerce blog, EcommerceBytes.
Mr. Cooke was charged in Boston federal court with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses to hinder the local police investigation. A lawyer for Mr. Cooke declined to comment.
The attacks, according to court documents, included sending the couple threatening Twitter messages and packages that contained live cockroaches, a preserved fetal pig and a bloody-pig Halloween mask, along with a funeral wreath and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse. In addition, the authorities said, a subscription for pornographic magazines was ordered in the name of the husband to be sent to the neighbors' homes.
The Justice Department also accuses the former eBay employees, whose responsibilities included security and global intelligence, of conducting covert surveillance of the Natick, Mass., couple.
The couple, Ina and David Steiner, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
EBay Chief Executive Jamie Iannone, speaking at the annual shareholder meeting last month, called the actions attributed to the fired workers "awful" and said he had apologized to the couple.
"The events from last year never should have happened, yet it gives us a chance to reflect, to reset and to act," Mr. Iannone said. "Integrity is the foundation of how I work, and as CEO, I will hold our leadership team and all employees to this same standard."
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