On January 8, 2016, Christopher Correa, the former director of Baseball Development for the St. Louis Cardinals, pleaded guilty to each count of a five-count criminal information, charging him with felony violations of unauthorized access to a protected computer, in violation of various sections of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030.
As part of his written plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, Mr. Correa acknowledged that from about March 2013 through March 2014, he accessed the computers of two former Cardinals employees who had subsequently gone to work for the Houston Astros.
Specifically, Mr. Correa admitted accessing one of the individuals’ email accounts, and also accessing the Astros’ online database known as Ground Control, which housed confidential data, such as scouting reports, statistics and contract information. In order to gain access to the information of one of the former employees, Mr. Correa used a variation of the password that the employee used on his Cardinals laptop while he was a Cardinals employee.
Among the information unlawfully accessed by Mr. Correa were:
- statistics and notes on the recent performance and injuries of top scouting prospects;
- lists of scouting prospects in order of desirability, including recommended player bonuses;
- summaries of college pitchers and hitters;
- notes of Astros’ trade discussions with other teams; and
- reports about players in the Astros’ minor league system.
While the statute carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, Mr. Correa’s sentence will be determined by the court after its review of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Components of that calculation include the amount of any intended monetary loss to the victim of the offense and the method by which the offense was committed. Mr. Correa and the government agreed that the intended loss was $1.7 million, and that he used sophisticated means to hide his identity, location and type of device he was using to carry out the crime. Mr. Correa also agreed to pay the Astros $279,000 in restitution for the amount the team actually lost as the result of his actions.
While the court has the authority and discretion to sentence Mr. Correa to the maximum penalty, the advisory range of incarceration under the Sentencing Guidelines will likely be 37-46 months, in addition to any restitution and fine the court may impose.
Mr. Correa’s sentencing is set for April 11, 2016.