(Bloomberg) -- A former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director pleaded guilty to hacking into the Houston Astros’ “Ground Control” database to steal private reports and player trade details, according to U.S. Justice Department.
Chris Correa left the Cardinals in midseason last year after a criminal probe into the breaches of the Astros’ front-office computers came to light in June. The hacks were first reported by the website Deadspin, which posted stacks of leaked Astros trading documents.
“Unauthorized computer intrusion is not to be taken lightly,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson in Houston said in a statement. “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.”
Conviction on each of the five counts carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Cardinals’ officials may have accessed the Astros’ computers by tweaking a list of passwords formerly used by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who created the Cardinals’ data analytics program before joining the Houston ball club in 2011.
Utilizing analysis tricks made famous in the movie “Moneyball,” Luhnow built his “Ground Control” database into a statistical coaching machine that helped boost the 2015 Astros to a winning season with one of the lowest payrolls.
The Astros ended the season with an 86-76 record on a team salary of $69 million, the second lowest in professional baseball, according to ESPN.com. The relatively young Houston team defeated the New York Yankees in the American League wild card game before losing the division championship to the Kansas City Royals in five games.
The case is U.S. vs. Correa, 15-cr-679, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).
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