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Ex-eBay workers to plead guilty to sending spiders to Massachusetts bloggers

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Four former eBay employees have agreed to plead guilty for their roles in an intimidation campaign that included sending live spiders and cockroaches to a Massachusetts couple who ran an online newsletter that was highly critical of the auction site.

"Four former employees of eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 8 at 2pm via Zoom in federal court in Boston," according to a tweet from the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts. "The defendants are charged with participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple."

The four expected to plead guilty are California residents Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea, according to The Boston Globe. They are all charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness.

They are among seven former eBay employees charged in the case, including James Baugh, eBay's former senior director of safety and security, and David Harville, the company's former director of global resiliency. The Massachusetts couple had other disturbing items sent to their home, including a funeral wreath and a bloody pig Halloween mask.

According to court documents, eBay executives became upset with negative coverage of the company on an e-commerce blog operated out of Natick, Massachusetts, and in anonymous comments that appeared under the blog's stories. They became convinced that some of the anonymous commenters, which included parody accounts, were colluding with the husband-and-wife team who published the blog and texted about the need to "take her down" and "burn her to the ground."

Ex-eBay employees charged with mailing spiders, cockroaches and pig mask to critics 01:15

The ex-employees allegedly created a Twitter account and used it to send harassing messages to the blog's publishers before publicly posting their home address. The employees also sent pornographic magazines with the husband's name on them to their neighbor's house and planned to break into the couple's garage to install a GPS device on their car, officials said.

Their lawyers declined to comment Wednesday.

California-based eBay launched an internal investigation after being notified by law enforcement of "suspicious actions by its security personnel," company officials wrote in a prepared statement. 

The suspects engaged in "systematic campaign fueled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorize this middle-aged couple in Natick," U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said at a June news conference when the charges were announced.

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