There has been a new twist in the St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal – A former scouting director has recently pleaded guilty to accessing Houston Astros player data and other sensitive information without authorization. Players’ medical data was accessed and used to gain a competitive advantage. The data were accessed over a period of years according to prosecutors.
The St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal came to light last summer when staff at Houston Astros discovered that its systems had been accessed by an unauthorized individual, although it was not initially clear who that individual was.
The FBI conducted an investigation into the alleged breach and attention soon focused on officials at the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jeff Luhnow was previously employed by the Houston Astros and worked in the scouting department. He was involved in setting up a proprietary database system called Redbird, which was used to store sensitive player data. The system was used to evaluate players and track injuries and performance. Luhnow left the Cardinals in December 2011 and joined the Astros as general manager. Luhnow was involved in setting up a similar system at the Astros. That system was improperly accessed by former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa.
The data were accessed prior to critical baseball events according to the Justice Department. Trade discussions, player statistics, scouting information, and other sensitive data were allegedly accessed in 2013 and 2014. Correa was fired by the Cardinals last year following an internal investigation.
Correa had previously denied any wrongdoing, although now he has admitted to accessing the database and has pleaded guilty to five counts of improper accessing of a protected computer. Last year, Correa’s attorney commented on the inquiry into the St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal and suggested the investigation should not focus on the Cardinals, but instead on Luhnow and other employees that joined the Astros. Luhnow has denied taking any proprietary data with him when he moved teams.
Correa now faces up to five years in jail for each of the five charges, although the guilty plea will be taken into consideration when sentencing takes place later this year. Action may also be taken against the Cardinals by the MLB.