Ex-St. Louis Cardinals official guilty of accessing Astros' database

Christopher Correa worked for the St. Louis Cardinals in their scouting department.

Story highlights

  • Christopher Correa admits to accessing player database of the Houston Astros
  • Correa used someone else's password to get into email, prospects info, officials say
  • Federal officials say value of illicitly viewed information is $1.7 million

(CNN)Former St. Louis Cardinals executive Christopher Correa pleaded guilty Friday to sneaking into a private database used by the Houston Astros, authorities in Texas announced.

Correa, once the director of baseball development for the Cardinals, agreed to plead guilty to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer.
"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," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
    Correa worked for the Cardinals from 2009 to July 2015. Shortly after becoming the director of scouting in 2013, he accessed the Astros' Ground Control database on prospects.
    According to authorities, Correa admitted to obtaining the password of an employee who left to work for the Astros. The employee was not identified, but Jeff Luhnow, the Astros general manager, left the Cardinals in 2011 to take the same position in Houston.
    Correa tried variations of the password the former Cardinals employee used for his laptop and eventually gained access to the person's Ground Control and email accounts, according to court documents.
    He used the access to see what players the Astros were considering for the draft and also viewed the notes of the Astros' trade discussions with other major league teams. He also accessed the account of a second Astros employee.
    After Luhnow left St. Louis, some people with the Cardinals appeared to have thought Luhnow and at least one other person took proprietary information with them to Houston.
    The Astros database was similar to one the Cardinals used, but many teams have similar systems and Luhnow said the Astros created their database.
    Giles Kibbe, an attorney for the Astros, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in July that neither the Houston team nor any of its employees who came from the Cardinals stole proprietary information.
    Correa's plea agreement put the monetary loss for the intrusions at $1.7 million.
    "Yes, your honor, I accept responsibility for my mistakes," Correa told the judge, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
    CNN reached out to an attorney for Correa but didn't get an immediate response.
      A conviction of unauthorized access of a protected computer carries a sentence of up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
      No other Cardinals employee has been charged.