back to article eBay ex-security boss sent down for 18 months for cyber-stalking, witness tampering

The former global security manager for eBay was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months in prison and was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for his role in the cyber-stalking and harassment of a Massachusetts couple who published a newsletter critical of the internet yard sale. Philip Cooke, a police captain in Santa Clara, California, …

  1. Jamesit

    18 months is too light a sentence and being drunk is no excuse for his behavior. An ex cop should know better.Being an ex cop in jail will not be fun though.

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  2. Winkypop Silver badge

    That’s some bender

    “August 20-22 time period, when the witness tampering occurred, Mr Cooke was in India alone and inebriated.”

    Solo bender too

    1. Kibble 2

      Re: That’s some bender

      An enforced period of alcohol rehab should have been added to the sentence, although it's unclear how much time Cooke will actually serve in gaol.

      There is also the fact that as a company officer he was probably being paid a salary to be available 24/7 and can be assumed to have been on duty even during the time he was in India.

  3. Notas Badoff

    Truth from a lawyer!

    "He knew better. It was inconsistent with everything he stood for as a police officer for decades."

    That's his lawyer's words. Drunk or not, re-read his lawyer's words.

    They should've doubled the sentence.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    When a cop (or ex-cop) breaks the law, the sentence should be doubled. Alas, it's often the opposite.

  5. Khaptain

    What about EBAY

    Why do I get the feeling that EBAY , as a company, is getting away Scot free from this absolutely wicked situation..

    I am sure that most wil agree that this was probably not the only case that existed and that due to the number of people involved it was probably an organised and established practice within the company...

    It's almost impossible that top management did not know about these procedures.. Decisions come from the top.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about EBAY

      I wouldn't assume anything and what's your evidence this went wider? At least these individuals have been convicted, shamed and punished.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: What about EBAY

        "I wouldn't assume anything and what's your evidence this went wider?"

        Your caution is good, but I wouldn't assume they're innocent just yet. There isn't evidence known to me to confirm that someone higher in the organizational structure knew this, but the situation is such that it would make sense. This is not a thing someone does just for fun. They obviously had a business reason for doing it. The question is whether these people found the problem themselves, decided on this plan of action themselves, obtained the resources themselves, and then carried it out themselves? While not impossible, I don't think that's likely. I'm almost certain someone else found the potential PR risk, although that person could well be innocent and just introduced it to the people involved, but the following questions are worth asking and I hope investigators will be doing it:

        1. Who came up with the idea? If not one of the people involved, they should face consequences.

        2. Was anyone else asked for permission to conduct the behavior? If so, they should face consequences.

        3. How did the perpetrators obtain the resources to conduct their behavior? From which budget were they taken, and who controls it? If not one of the people involved, they should face consequences. Additionally, who was in charge of reviewing their resource usage and how did they evade that person?

        4. To whom did they report, and was that person aware of what they were going to do? If not, how did they hide their plan?

        It's possible these people were just really driven to be horrible to someone else and they found the targets and hid everything from everyone else, but my admittedly small experience with companies making decisions suggests that this may not be quite what happened.

        1. teebie

          Re: What about EBAY

          5 Did they submit an expenses form for "severed head of a fetal pig" and if so why didn't this raise a red flag?

          1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

            Re: What about EBAY

            "Expenses for marketing impact communications"

        2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: What about EBAY

          I can believe that there is no evidence to prosecute anyone higher up. That is the purpose of the civil action mentioned in the article against the company and several executives (former CEO, etc), I assume.

    2. TVU

      Re: What about EBAY

      "Why do I get the feeling that EBAY , as a company, is getting away Scot free from this absolutely wicked situation"

      That might indeed be true but at least this time there have been consequences at this tech giant in the form of criminal convictions, prison sentences, fines and reputations destroyed beyond repair.

      That should serve as a warning not only to Ebay, but also to Facebook, Amazon and the rest, that they are not above the law.

    3. Imhotep

      Re: What about EBAY

      It appears top management left thecompany about the same time. Were they aware? I doubt it. It sounds as if Cooke was as high as it went.

  6. LDS Silver badge

    "As a result of being drunk, Mr Cooke did not fully comprehend"

    I'll never understand why being drunk should be a justification. It is not something that happens without someone knowing it - becoming drunk is a deliberate act and the consequences well known - so acting while being drunk should just make the situation worse.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "As a result of being drunk, Mr Cooke did not fully comprehend"

      That was an incredibly lame excuse for a number of reasons, he was drunk for two days, the campaign was carried out over a two month period, being drunk is no excuse for anything and being an ex-cop means he should not only have known better but should have had the ethics and morals that ought to be part of a law officer's character.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "As a result of being drunk, Mr Cooke did not fully comprehend"

      It would have been an excuse he'd heard many times in his police career. It's surprising he didn't come up with something better - although that might have been difficult.

    3. John Doe 12

      Re: "As a result of being drunk, Mr Cooke did not fully comprehend"

      Next time someone gets hauled up before the judge for DUI I wonder if that lawyer will try that excuse again?!!

      "As a result of being drunk, Mr Smith did not fully comprehend that he shouldn't drive home from the pub"

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    he agreed to harass them online in service of a corporate objective.

    This is the heart of the matter - all the pleading about how drunk he was and how remorseful he is shouldn't obscure the fact that this was an organised campaign of cruel harassment by senior managers at a huge multinational corporation. The creepy weirdness of what was done to the victims shows that a part of the company was seriously out of control.

    Watch for any response to the matter from the company once the case is complete. If there isn't a lot of very profuse apologising, with real structural changes to increase safeguards against repeat performances, and they try the "just a few bad apples" excuse, it will confirm that this awful case has roots in a corrosive corporate culture that is still not being properly addressed.

  8. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Big Brother

    1. My home town (Natick)

    2. Throw the book at them. And at eBay. Corporate arrogance, everyone responsible should feel a good bit of pain and embarrassment.

    3. eBay as well...sure wish it was possible to give custodial sentences to "corporate people", because a fine isn't going to have any impact.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3. eBay as well...sure wish it was possible to give custodial sentences to "corporate people", because a fine isn't going to have any impact.

      It is. Part of the justification trotted out for executives getting paid silly amounts of money is the theoretical risk of being held personally responsible for things they do while in office.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    "As a retired police captain with 27 years’ service, Cooke should have appreciated the impact a fraction of this conduct would have on the victims,"

    I think he appreciated it all too well, which is why he did it. The excuses given don't hold water IMHO (or alcoholic laden fluid) - especially given the prolonged time period. If you make a drunken mistake (& this is beyond that by orders of magnitude) you rectify ASAP

  10. JWLong

    I Think

    .......Massachusetts should ban EBay from doing business within their borders for some period of time (the longer the better). That alone will cost them dearly, both in compliance cost and loss of business.

    This seems to be the only thing corporations understand today.

    Hurt their bottom line and you will have their undivided attention.

  11. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    18 months for drunk dialling

    Drunk and in India. And on the phone.

    And having ideas about how to disrupt or obstruct justice.

    I betcha the police force will look further into this guy's history in the police force. Might be something to find there.

  12. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Sociopaths tend to gravitate to positions of power

    Who is exactly saying this wasn’t just some bent copper?

    People are all like “this policeman should know better”, well maybe he was a turd while in the police role too, ever think of that

  13. Aussie Doc


    Weird but when I've been drunk on a bender I've never had the urge to do or encourage others to be involved in sending live insects, the severed head of a fetal pig, funeral wreaths, a pig's head mask, or a book about coping with the loss of a spouse, to other people.

    Maybe that's just me.

    What a great excuse.


    1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Yeah, that's a hell of a collection of parts to procure without leaving a papertrail.

      It's not something you order after 5 pints on eBay...

  14. teebie

    An excess of caution

    "alleged involvement in a scheme to threaten and silence Ina and David Steiner:

    Do you need the "alleged" after 5 people have pleaded guilty?

    1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: An excess of caution

      Using the word alleged is a classic arse-covering journalist thing.

      Imagine a case where someone is accused of murder and you say "Dave is a murderer", Dave might take offence and sue you.

      So when court cases are involved, it's far safer for journalists to say "Dave is an alleged murder".

  15. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I have a fun slightly eBay related story

    I hate people who use the drunk excuse too, but you are smearing us all with it unfairly. I am a tad more sensible drunk than most of you lot are sober. I would never blame booze for anything except sexual performance.

    Two almost famous anarchists asked me to drive a refrigerator/freezer they'd bought on eBay from Falkirk to Glasgow because it wouldn't fit in their car. It kind of would have. Took two hours to get there because Multimaps wasn't that accurate at the time.

    I quickly noticed I was doing most of the heavy lifting. Typical lazy anarchists. We get to their flat, I unload it (alone) and they say the lift is broken, could I help lift it in? I thought they were nice people at the time. "Sure, what floor are you on?"


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