Former Santa Clara police captain Brian Gilbert may be facing significant jail time and a hefty fine for his alleged participation in a harassment scheme that sent live cockroaches and a dead baby pig to publishers of a business newsletter.
Gilbert is charged with conspiracy to commit cyber stalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses, each of which carry a sentence of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, according to a June 15 news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Gilbert retired from Santa Clara Police Department in 2017 and was immediately hired by ecommerce giant eBay as a Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team.
The victims were a married couple that publish a Natick, Mass. newsletter that published an August 2019 article critical of eBay. The allegations suggest that texts from two eBay executives may have launched the criminal scheme by saying that the publication’s editor needed a “take down.”
Gilbert and his eBay colleagues Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell, Veronica Zea, James Baugh and David Harville — all of whom were at the top levels of eBay’s security operations — are alleged to have subsequently conceived the criminal plan that included threats, surveillance and extremely unnerving deliveries.
Taking a page from the Mafia’s book, the defendants allegedly sent the victims a fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving a spouse’s death, and pornography addressed to the newsletter’s publisher but delivered to neighboring houses.
Next, defendants allegedly sent increasingly threatening messages to the couple and “doxed” the victims — published their home address.
Allegedly the group intended Gilbert to offer the couple help to end the harassment “in an effort to promote good will towards eBay, generate more favorable coverage in the newsletter, and identify the individuals behind the anonymous comments.”
A third part of the scheme allegedly involved cyber-stalking the victims. According to the charges, Baugh and Harville went to Boston in August allegedly intending to put a tracking device on the victims’ car. In case police stopped them, they allegedly had false documents saying, “They were investigating the victims as ‘Persons of Interest’ who had threatened eBay executives.”
The victims spotted the attempt and called Natick police, who opened an investigation and asked for help from eBay.
When the conspirators got wind of the investigation, they allegedly tried to put the police on a false track by lying, pretending to help with the investigation and deleting digital evidence showing their involvement. The defendants even went so far, the charges allege, as to give the police a made-up story about a phony “person of interest” connected with the disturbing deliveries.
Gilbert’s Close Ties to City Hall
While Gilbert was allegedly participating in this Mafia-like plot, he also penned an editorial endorsing Patrick Nikolai for police chief, praising the “courageous” Nikolai and denigrating Acting Police Chief Dan Winter. The editorial was posted in Robert Haugh’s Santa Clara News, a publication with close ties to Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
“The most courageous amongst the troops was then-Sergeant Pat Nikolai, “Gilbert wrote. “While many officers clearly felt we needed a new police chief, only Pat was willing to step up and put his name and career on the line to run for office.”
Gilbert was reportedly close to Nikolai and participated in Nikolai’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign and donated $550 to it, according to City records. That campaign was characterized by the police union PAC’s notorious “black and white” “Letter From Your Mayor” mailers — in which some saw a racist subtext.
In 2018 Gilbert collected $207,652 in pension benefits. California’s pension forfeiture law only apply to “felonies arising out of… former official duties.”
It is not mere coincidence a retired police captain who served under former police chiefs Mike Sellers and Kevin Kyle is caught up in an elaborate scheme to chill the voice of those critical of them, the added fact that Gilbert’s acts rise to a felony level fits right in with the friends he was employed with Mike Seadler, Clay Rojas, Thomas Leipelt, Tyson Green, and Daniel Burde. It is also no surprise at the time all these officers served the City of Santa Clara was trying to hold on to a Jim Crow era of voting practices to ensure a lack of diversity in city government. Residents of the City of Santa Clara need to get rid of Gillmor, Debi Davis, and others who were trying to reduce district voting practices. Residents need to also encourage a more diverse City Council to quickly do away with a vote-in police chief, Santa Clara is the only city in all of California that still does this and experts question the modern relevance of elected law enforcement officers who aren’t subject to oversight and disciplinary reaches of citizen representatives.
Anyone else think maybe CSC has an agenda?
And why was a picture of the perp in uniform used? He has not been on active duty for 3 years.
SCS: The headline says he’s a former cop. The photo in uniform is entirely appropriate.
It’s appalling that this person can be convicted of a felony and still keep his taxpayer funded pension. No wonder police think they are above the law – apparently, they are.
From tech and social media to 49ers and private businesses that protect it all, money has flooded into Silicon Valley as local news has shuttered their doors. It is impossible to address public corruption without transparency. That means journalism and holding our duly elected officials accountable. It also means following the money , the endorsements and the relationships. Good job, but Gilmore is a rookie. Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen has been prosecuting petty crimes while letting public corruption and bad cops get a free pass. They keep their pensions. They rig the game. Santa Clara County has quickly equated what Chicago was in the 1920s .