A former director of baseball development for the St. Louis Cardinals has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for unauthorized access to the Houston Astros’ computer systems.
Chris Correa pleaded guilty to the unauthorized access — which involved finding or guessing passwords to the computer system where the Astros store scouting reports — in January.
In the 2013 draft season, he accessed “scout rankings of every player eligible for the draft,” among other things, the Justice Department says. In 2014, he viewed “notes of Astros’ trade discussions with other teams.” He accessed “lists ranking the players whom Astros scouts desired in the upcoming draft, summaries of scouting evaluations and summaries of college players identified by the Astros’ analytics department as top performers.”
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, as she sentenced Correa, noted that the crime has resulted in stricter security at other baseball teams, according to a press release from the Justice Department.
When Correa apologized and called his actions “reckless,” Huges replied, “No, you intentionally and knowingly did these acts.”
The “total intended loss” for Correa’s unauthorized access to the Astros computer systems is approximately $1.7 million, the Justice Department says. No one else from the Cardinals has been charged in connection with the crime.
Here’s more from the Justice Department on how Correa accessed the Astros’ proprietary information:
“In one instance, Correa was able to obtain an Astros employee’s password because that employee has previously been employed by the Cardinals. When he left the Cardinals organization, the employee had to turn over his Cardinals-owned laptop to Correa – along with the laptop’s password. Having that information, Correa was able to access the now-Astros employee’s Ground Control and e-mail accounts using a variation of the password he used while with the Cardinals.”
In 2014, the Astros reacted to the unauthorized intrusions into their system by requiring users to change their passwords, the Justice Department says:
“The team also reset all Ground Control passwords to a more complex default password and quickly e-mailed the new default password and the new URL to all Ground Control users.
“Shortly thereafter, Correa illegally accessed the aforementioned person’s e mail account and found the e mails that contained Ground Control’s new URL and the newly-reset password for all users.”
As we reported in January, the hack was uncovered last summer, and it soon “became apparent that the hack may have had something to do with the Cardinals’ familiarity with a former executive, Jeff Luhnow, who had gone to work for the Astros.”
“Luhnow became the Astros’ general manager in late 2011; prior to that, he was a vice president in the Cardinals’ organization, focusing on evaluating players,” the Two-Way reported last year. “[H]e’s a former business consultant whose analytical approach was credited with modernizing how the Cardinals evaluated talent. Despite being a divisive figure, he rose to lead the team’s scouting department.”