HOUSTON – A former executive with the St. Louis Cardinals pleaded guilty to hacking the Astros computers in a Houston federal court Friday.
Christopher Correa, 35, was charged with five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer.
"We have secured an appropriate conviction in this case as a result of a very detailed, thorough and complete investigation," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. "Unauthorized computer intrusion is not to be taken lightly. Whether it's preserving the sanctity of America's pastime or protecting trade secrets, those that unlawfully gain proprietary information by accessing computers without authorization must be held accountable for their illegal actions."
Correa worked for the Cardinals from 2009 to July 2015. He became the director of Baseball Development in 2013. In this role, he provided analytical support to all areas of the Cardinals' baseball operations.
Correa admitted he hacked into the Astros secure database called Ground Control in March 2013. The database houses a wide variety of confidential data, including scouting reports, statistics and contract information.
Correa accessed scout rankings of every player eligible for the draft. He also viewed, among other things, an Astros weekly digest page which described the performance and injuries of prospects who the Astros were considering.
Correa later intruded into that account during the July 31, 2013, trade deadline and viewed notes of Astros' trade discussions with other teams.
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.
The parties agreed that Correa masked his identity, his location and the type of device that he used, and that the total intended loss for all of the intrusions is approximately $1.7 million.
Each conviction of unauthorized access of a protected computer carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The Houston Astros released the following statement regarding today's court proceedings:
"We appreciate the thorough effort of the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in their investigation of these criminal acts. It is important that we respect the process and not comment on the details at this time. This is a difficult day for all of Major League Baseball. The Astros refute Mr. Correa's statement that our database contained any information that was proprietary to the St. Louis Cardinals. We have a great amount of respect for Bill DeWitt and the Cardinals organization. And, we are confident that Commissioner Manfred will guide MLB through this process in the best way possible."
The charges and conviction are the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu is prosecuting the case.