$2M Penalty Puts End to Baseball Hacking Scandal

HOUSTON (CN) – Major League Baseball ordered the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday to pay the Houston Astros $2 million and give the Astros two future draft picks, as punishment for a hacking scandal that sent a former Cardinals executive to federal prison.

Federal prosecutors charged Chris Correa with five counts of unauthorized access of computers under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in December 2015. He admitted in court that he illegally accessed the Astros database five times from March 2013 to June 2014 when he was the Cardinals’ director of baseball development.

Correa admitted he downloaded the Astros’ scouting reports for every player eligible for the 2013 MLB draft, notes on the Astros’ trade talks with other teams, and evaluations of college and international players.

The careless password practices of Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow allowed Correa to access the team’s database. Luhnow worked in the Cardinals’ scouting department from 2003 until the Astros hired him in December 2011.

The Cardinals made Luhnow turn in his team-owned laptop when he left, along with its password, and Correa used a variation of this password to get into the Astros database and email accounts.

Correa was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison in July 2016 and ordered to pay $279,000 in restitution.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Monday that the Astros filed an arbitration claim with his office after Correa pleaded guilty, seeking compensation from the Cardinals for the hacking.

Despite the ample evidence from the FBI investigation that led to Correa’s guilty plea, Manfred said that MLB did its own thorough investigation.

It interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents and analyzed the Astros’ and Cardinals’ computer systems, Manfred said.

“Both the Cardinals and the Astros, and their respective employees, fully cooperated in the investigation. However, Mr. Correa, who was terminated by Cardinals in July 2015, declined to answer questions and provide any cooperation,” Manfred said in the statement.

The commissioner decided the Cardinals bear some responsibility for the hack even if Correa acted alone.

“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. 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,” Manfred said.

In addition to the $2 million penalty, Manfred ordered the Cardinals to give the Astros their top two picks in the June 12 MLB draft, numbers 56 and 75.

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