- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The St. Louis Cardinals were stripped of its top two draft picks and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in damages to the Houston Astros on Monday as punishment for a hacking scheme perpetrated by the baseball team’s former scouting director, Chris Correa.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the sanctions in a ruling Monday more than a year after Correa pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of computer hacking in connection with breaching an Astros database containing proprietary and invaluable athlete information dozens of times during a two-year span. 

Separate from the FBI probe that culminated in Correa being sentenced last year to 46 months in federal prison, the MLB conducted its own investigation that ended this week with significant sanctions imposed against his former team in response to his actions.

“Although Mr. Correa’s conduct was not authorized by the Cardinals, as a matter of MLB policy I am holding the Cardinals responsible for his conduct,” the commissioner wrote. “Mr. Correa held positions in the Cardinals’ front office that enabled him to have input into his club’s decisions and processes.

“As a result, I am holding the club vicariously liable for his misconduct.”

Specifically the Cardinals have been ordered to surrender their first two draft picks to the Astros in addition to $1.8 million St. Louis had put aside to pay those athletes, in turn allowing Houston to retain its first two draft picks at No. 15 and No. 53 in addition to gaining the Cardinals’ top two slots and the money assigned to those picks.

Correa has also been banned from the league for life, according to the ruling.

St. Louis previously forfeited its first-round pick by signing free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, meaning the Cardinals won’t be able to pick a player during this year’s draft until 93 other athletes have already been chosen by other teams.

“This unprecedented award by the Commissioner’s office sends a clear message of the severity of these actions,” the Astros said in a statement.

“We respect the Commissioner’s decision and appreciate that there is now a final resolution to this matter,” said William DeWitt Jr., the chairman and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals. “Commissioner Manfred’s findings are fully consistent with our own investigation’s conclusion that this activity was isolated to a single individual.”

In a statement issued from behind bars through his family Tuesday, Correa acknowledged his role but accused the league of handpicking the instances it chose to investigate.

“I accept responsibility for my wrongful actions and am paying my debt to society. The Cardinals organization must pay a heavy price as well. But punishment does not function as a deterrent when sanctions are applied arbitrarily,” Correa said from prison.

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