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Former Cardinals scouting director pleads guilty to hacking Astros

A release from the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Christopher Correa pleaded guilty to not one, but five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. That protected computer held the player personnel database of the Houston Astros.

Christopher Correa pleaded guilty to the five counts, which authorities said dated back several years. As part of a plea deal, Correa admitted he accessed the Astros’ private database and email accounts from March 2013 to March 2014 to get propriety information.

Correa told the judge that his choices were “stupid” ones. He is looking at up to five years in jail on each charge when he is sentenced on April 11.

The 35-year-old was the Cardinals’ director of baseball development up until last summer when he was fired.

So here’s the nitty gritty:

Prosecutors accused Correa of improperly downloading an Excel file of the Astros’ scouting list naming every eligible player for the 2013 draft. They also claim he viewed the Astros’ notes of trade discussions, a scouting page held information on Houston prospects, and the Astros’ main draft page. That information also consisted of the players’ latest stats and notes on performance and injury, according to The New York Times.

Correa got all of that information when an Astros employee who had previously worked for the Cardinals gave his Cardinals-owned laptop to Correa, along with the password. That password gave him access to the Astros email. Officials say that he could look at every player’s scout ranking and a weekly digest page for prospects for the entire year of 2013.

All of this information was on a private online database, also known as Ground Control, which included the email accounts of Astros employees, ABC News reports.

The Justice Department stated that Correa illegally gained access to all of that information before crucial baseball events like the 2013 amateur draft and the summer’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

The Astros are a team that relies on sabermetrics when evaluating players, and they have been open about their Ground Control databases. There was even a detailed report on the database in The Houston Chronicle.

The first report of a data breach came in June 2014, when Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow, a former Cardinals employee, said they’d been hacked, and some of the information was posted online.

In July of 2015, the Cardinals fired Correa. That was pretty much the first event in the aftermath of the scandal. St. Louis wouldn’t say why he was being fired, and Correa’s lawyer, Nicholas WIlliams, said that his client denied doing anything illegal.

“The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employee steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to, or benefited from that roguish behavior,” said Williams at the time.

Lunhow, the Astros current GM, has not commented on the case, though he told Sports Illustrated that it wasn’t a bad password that allowed for the hack. Further, he denied having anything to do with the Cardinals’ intellectual property or information from the Cardinals’ database, Redbird, when he created Ground Control.

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best teams in baseball (although I’m seriously hoping the Chicago Cubs take on that reputation this year). The only team to win more World Series titles than them is the Yankees.

The Astros and Cardinals were big rivals in the National League Central Division until the Astros became part of the American League in 2013.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com