Former Cardinals' scouting director Chris Correa has begun serving his prison sentence at a federal facility in Cumberland, Md. (File) 

By Rob Rains

Former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa has begun serving his 46-month prison sentence for hacking into the Houston Astros computer database.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website on Wednesday, Correa is in the custody of the medium security prison in Cumberland, Maryland. The facility also has an adjacent minimum security satellite camp. The website did not specify where Correa had been assigned.

Correa, 36, was sentenced on July 18 in U.S. District Court in Houston after pleading guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access to protected computer information. He had faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each count, plus a $250,000 fine.

At the time he was sentenced, Correa was given two to six weeks to turn himself in to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. It matched the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney’s office which prosecuted the case.

Correa also was ordered to pay a $279,000 fine.

Before the sentence was pronounced, Correa read a letter apologizing to the court and his family for his actions. He described himself as being “overwhelmed with remorse and regret for my actions.”

“I violated my values and it was wrong,” he read. “The whole episode represents the worst thing I’ve done in my life by far.”

Correa admitted in January to hacking into the Astros internal computer system, reportedly trying to see if any proprietary information had been taken from the Cardinals’ internal computer system by employees who left the Cardinals to work for the Astros. Those employees included Jeff Luhnow, who is now the general manager of the Astros.

In announcing the sentence, Hughes said told Correa his actions had forced major-league teams to change the way they do business because of the need for tighter and upgraded security systems.

“You have made it harder for them to live their lives,” Hughes said.

As Correa attempted to apologize and call his behavior reckless, the judge interrupted him and said, “No, you intentionally and knowingly did these acts.”

At the conclusion of his prison term Correa also will be required to serve a two years of supervised release.

The commissioner’s office of major-league baseball has launched its own investigation into the hacking incident, and is expected to also issue some sanctions or penalties against the Cardinals. A timetable for the MLB investigation has not been revealed.

The penalties could include loss of picks in next year’s amateur draft, a reduction in the signing bonuses the Cardinals could offer to international free agents and a stiff fine.
No other Cardinal officials have been implicated in the hacking incidents, but baseball could still issue severe penalties against the team.

In a statement released by the Cardinals after Correa’s sentencing in July, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., pledged the team will “fully cooperate” with the MLB investigation.

"As we did with the Government during its investigation, we intend to fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office in connection with its investigation so that this matter can finally be resolved," DeWitt said. "Pending the outcome of the Commissioner’s investigation, we will have no further comment.”

Federal court documents accused Correa of illegally accessing the Astros computer system through the emails of a former Cardinal employee, and internal communications with other Astros employees. The information, according to the court document outlining the charges against Correa, included reports on players eligible for the amateur draft in 2013 as well as reports on players in professional organizations, including the Cardinals.

At the time of the computer breach Correa was the director of baseball development for the Cardinals, in charge of their analytics department. He was promoted to scouting director in December, 2014.

Correa was fired by the Cardinals in July 2015 after reports of the alleged incident surfaced and the team conducted an internal investigation while an FBI probe also was underway.

The documents specifically accused Correa of downloading a computer file which included confidential information about the 2013 draft prospects as well as reports on professional players which the team used to evaluate trade proposals.

Correa did not have a baseball background when he came to the Cardinals to work in the analytics department in 2009. At the time he was a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Michigan. He was named the team’s manager of baseball development in 2012 and was named director of the department in 2013.