Cardinals hacker to MLB: Astros deserve punishment too

Liz Roscher

News continues to fly about the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal. The punishment for the actions of Christopher Correa, the former Cardinals employee who hacked into the Astros computer system, was handed down on Monday. Even though Correa acted alone, the Cardinals must give the Astros two draft picks and $2 million.

A day after the punishment was handed down, Correa isn’t happy that the Cardinals were the only organization to feel the wrath of the Commissioner’s Office. Correa is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence for the hacking, and he let everyone know how he felt on Tuesday morning with a statement he released on Twitter.

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Here’s the full text of his statement.

In 2015, I admitted to unauthorized computer access and volunteered to meet with the commissioner to answer any questions and share my concerns about intellectual property theft. In May, I offered to fly to New York. In June, I suggested a meeting during his visit to Busch Stadium.

The commissioner was unresponsive.

I am unimpressed with Major League Baseball’s commitment to fair and just action in this matter. The Cardinals were not the organization that benefitted from unauthorized access.

On December 21, 2011, a Houston Astros employee accessed propriety data on a St. Louis Cardinals server. Later I would learn – through unlawful matters – that Cardinals data were used extensively from 2012 through 2014. Houston Astros employees used the data to replicate and evaluate key algorithms and decision tools related to amateur and professional player evaluation. Many individuals throughout the Houston organization, including the General Manager and the Assistant General Manager, were included in e-mail discussions about these matters.

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.

I will have no further comment on this matter while I am incarcerated.

Shortly after Correa’s comments, Major League Baseball released its own statement, claiming Correa was not cooperative with them during the investigative process. MLB’s statement read:

“The Office of the Commissioner made the decision in the spring of 2015 for sound legal reasons to defer its investigation of the incursions into the Astros’ systems, including interviewing Mr. Correa and witnesses, as a result of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
“Mr. Correa and potential witnesses were informed of our decision to defer our investigation until the government completed its investigation and any criminal charges against Mr. Correa were adjudicated. Upon the conclusion of the federal investigation, during July and August 2016, the Department of Investigations repeatedly requested Mr. Correa’s cooperation through his attorney. On July 21, 2016, Mr. Correa was informed directly that he would be placed on the permanently ineligible list if he did not cooperate with the Department of Investigations. Mr. Correa not only steadfastly refused to answer any questions, but also opposed the release of any documents by the government to the Office of the Commissioner. On August 23, 2016, Mr. Correa’s attorney told the Department of Investigations that Mr. Correa was not interested in ‘providing any information directly or indirectly to MLB.’ The Department of Investigations was not provided evidence to substantiate the other allegations contained in Mr. Correa’s letter, but remains willing to meet with Mr. Correa at any time.”

So Correa is maintaining that he hacked into the Astros computers to see what the Astros had originally stolen from the Cardinals through their own hack. And because of that, he’s saying that the Cardinals didn’t benefit from the hack, despite the fact that Correa had access to a tremendous amount of Astros data, including medical files, scouting reports, player rankings, and the email account of an Astros executive.

Chris Correa in January, outside a federal courthouse in Houston. (AP)
Chris Correa in January, outside a federal courthouse in Houston. (AP)

The meat of Correa’s statement comes right in the middle, where he explains why he believes the Cardinals didn’t benefit from his hack. He says that the Astros hacked into the Cardinals system in 2011, and later, through his own hack, found out that the Astros had been extensively using data stolen from the Cardinals. And he says that this was with full knowledge and support of the Astros front office. Correa objects to the sentence handed down to the Cardinals because it ignores the original Astros hack of the Cardinals — if the Cards are punished for hacking, the Astros should be as well, because a punishment that doesn’t cover everyone who did wrong does nothing to deter others from doing it again.

What Correa is accusing the Astros of doing is no small thing. But he responded to a perceived crime by committing another. He might have discovered that the Astros hacked the Cardinals, but he did it during his own illegal hack. And the only person who has talked about the Astros hacking the Cardinals is Correa himself. While we have no idea if Correa’s claims have been investigated, he’s the only one even saying that it happened. You’d think that the FBI, who originally investigated the Cardinals hacking of the Astros in June 2015, would be aware of this if it had happened. Or that the Cardinals would be making a huge deal out of their intellectual property being stolen, but they’re not. On the other hand, there’s ample evidence that Correa hacked the Astros, and now he’s serving a 46-month prison sentence for it.

Correa’s credibility makes this statement a little hard to swallow. It’s tough to trust a guy who’s accusing an organization of hacking when the guy himself is guilty of hacking the organization he’s accusing. The “they did it first” defense didn’t work when you were a kid, and it doesn’t work now. Of course, that doesn’t mean that what Correa says isn’t true, but it’s likely that we’ll never know. The Commissioner’s Office has handed down their punishment, and they seem eager to wash their hands of this and move on.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher