Former STL Cardinals Scouting Director Gets Jail Time For Illegally Accessing Astros Scouting Database

from the the-cardinal-way dept

If you'll recall, early on this year we wrote about the very strange story in which the at-the-time scouting director for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chris Correa, used the old passwords of a former employee who had since taken a job with the Houston Astros to break into the opposing team's scouting database. The actions were fairly brazen, leading many to wonder how in the world Correa thought he was going to get away with this. The government charged him under the CFAA, to which Correa pleaded guilty. At the time, I concluded the post guessing that Correa, given his standing and the fact that he isn't named Aaron Swartz, would get off with minimal if any jail time.

Well, when you're wrong, you're wrong. While Correa didn't get anything like the half-a-century jail time that the feds had threatened Swartz with, he is getting nearly four years worth of jail time, which is much more than I had expected.

Chris Correa, the former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director who illegally accessed the Houston Astros database known as Ground Control, was sentenced to 46 months in prison today in Houston federal court.

Correa, who was fired by the Cardinals in July 2015, pleaded guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access of a computer. According to prosecutors, Correa used an old password of a former Cardinals employee, who took a job with the Astros, to log into Ground Control and download the Astros’ scouting reports, information on possible MLB draftees, and other notes. Correa has also been assessed a fine of $279,038. Prosecutors valued the damage done to the Astros from his actions at $1.7 million.

Without wanting to dance on another human being's jail sentence, I will say there is something slightly satisfying in seeing this case conclude with real jail time, as opposed to some kind of slap on the wrist. It does nothing to soften the still gaping wounds stemming from the Swartz tragedy, of course. Still, so much of the time we see laws like the CFAA applied in the most haphazard way, whereas this was about as perfect an application for it as I can think of.

Somehow the rest of the Cardinals organization has skated by unscathed. The Cardinal Way and all that, I guess.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2016 @ 10:43pm

    At one time I said the United States has the highest per capita prison population in the world, now I can leave out the per capita bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Jul 2016 @ 1:53am

      Re:

      No, the per capita bit's important. If you just state a number, someone will retort with "of course it's high, we have such a large population". That's true, at least among the developed world. But, when you start with a statistic that takes population difference into account, it's harder for someone to wave it away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jigsy (profile), 20 Jul 2016 @ 2:59am

    Strike three! You're out!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 4:32am

    cruel and unusual punishment

    it's interesting in the US that if you access a computer illegally (no one is harmed) you get 4 years, but if you are convicted of rape (like Brock Turner) you get 6 months.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 5:54am

      Re: cruel and unusual punishment

      I find this juxtaposition equally troubling. This could have been settled by fining the Cardinals (with the amount set high enough to be a deterrent to others) and without using taxpayer dollars to send yet another person to prison.

      Brock Turner, on the other hand, is a sociopath (and the son of a sociopath) and should be locked up somewhere where he gets violently raped every single day for the next 20 years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Jul 2016 @ 3:29am

        Re: Re: cruel and unusual punishment

        Erm, that won't really solve the problem. That his sentence was so light has made him something of a pariah. He will never be able to live this down. It's enough.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      freakanatcha, 20 Jul 2016 @ 6:20am

      Re: cruel and unusual punishment

      ...or if you are caught laundering $880M in drug money, you get a slap on the wrist because the DOJ considers you "too big to jail". No criminal charges at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 11:27am

      Re: cruel and unusual punishment

      Or you delete 30,000 emails, lie about it and get to run for and maybe be President.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 11:29am

        Re: Re: cruel and unusual punishment

        I would add, we have lots of screwed up sentencing IMHO. You can do physical harm or death to someone and get a lot less time than doing virtual or monetary harm. I think we need a panel to sit down with the criminal code and weigh the actual harm against the penalty and get them in line.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 20 Jul 2016 @ 6:39am

    "used the old passwords of a former employee"

    Now the question I have is: Why would these passwords still work? This is security 101, and not excusing Correa's actions, it would not have been possible had the Astro's had even the most basic opsec in place.

    This isn't hacking. It's hardly even social engineering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Jul 2016 @ 6:53am

      Re:

      The opening is written confusingly, and it stumped me initially, but the older articles are clearer. As I understand it the sequence of events is this:

      - Employee leaves Cardinals and is ordered to give his laptop to Correa along with its password.
      - Employee joins Astros, and uses a similar (but apparently not identical) password for his account there.
      - Correa later gains access to former employee's account by correctly guessing the variation used on the old password.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with the competence of the Astros' IT policies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 7:10am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2016 @ 11:07am

    the last phrase.

    What is meant by the "the cardinal way and all that" phrase?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adam V, 20 Jul 2016 @ 3:20pm

    Cardinals punishment is coming

    Note that MLB said they'd hold off on sanctions until after the federal case was complete, so the Cardinals may not be clear just yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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