- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced to 46 months behind bars Monday after pleading guilty to hacking another team’s online database.

U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes announced the sentencing from a Houston courthouse nearly one year after Correa, 36, was fired from the Major League Baseball team amid being implicated in a hacking scandal that culminated with Tuesday’s hearing.

A criminal indictment unsealed against Correa in December 2015 accused him of repeatedly breaching “Ground Control,” a private database maintained by the Houston Astros that hosted proprietary information for the team including scouting reports, player statistics and details on athletic contracts.

In charging Correa, federal prosecutors said the St. Louis scout had gained access to the database after guessing the password of a former Cardinals colleague who had recently parted ways with the team to take a job with the Astros. When that employee left the Cardinals, prosecutors said he returned his team-issued laptop to Correa, along with its associated log-in credentials.

“Having that information, Correa was able to access the now-Astros employee’s Ground Control and email accounts using a variation of the password he used while with the Cardinals,” the Justice Department summarized in a statement.

For at least a year beginning March 2013, Correa repeatedly signed-on to the database and accessed 118 pages of confidential information that the Astro assumed was safe from prying eyes. When the Astros eventually decided to reset passwords for its authorized users, Correa breached the former colleague’s personal email and acquired the new credentials within minutes, prosecutors said. 

In all, prosecutors believe Correa’s repeated computer intrusions caused the Astros approximately $1.7 million in losses.

Corra pleaded guilty in January 2016 to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer in connection with the scheme. In addition to spending nearly four years in federal prison, Correa, was also ordered to pay more than $279,000 in restitution to the Astros towards damages that resulted from the hack.

Correa had initially faced five years in prison for each of the five violations of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act he admitted to earlier this year.

In court Monday, Correa told Judge Hughes he was “overwhelmed with remorse and regret for my actions.”

“I violated my values and it was wrong … I behaved shamefully,” he said. “The whole episode represents the worst thing I’ve done in my life by far.”

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson applauded the judge’s sentence in a statement Monday and said the punishment is appropriate given the seriousness of Correa’s crime.

“I am proud of the investigators and the federal prosecutor assigned the case who worked diligently to ferret out all the facts. Today, justice was done,” said the prosecutors.

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball is expected to conduct its own investigation into the hacking scheme, said Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinals CEO and chairman. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated previously that the league will consider implementing sanctions of its own against the Cardinals pending the results of the FBI probe.

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