By Justin Madden
(Reuters) - A former scouting director for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team was sentenced to 46 months in prison on Monday over a breach of the computer network of the rival Houston Astros, prosecutors said.
Chris Correa, 36, of St. Louis, will also be required to serve a term of two years of supervised release following completion of the prison term and must pay $279,000 in restitution to the Astros, which federal officials said lost about $1.7 million due to the hacking.
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An attorney for Correa could not be immediately reached for comment.
Correa was fired by the Cardinals last year after his arrest. He pleaded guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. Each count carried a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
"We are grateful that the court agreed to our sentencing recommendation as it was based upon our evaluation of the seriousness of the crime and the actions of the defendant," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas said in a statement. "Today, justice was done."
A Major League Baseball spokesperson said Commissioner Rob Manfred had asked for an investigation into Correa's actions since the criminal case is over. In a separate statement, the Cardinals said they plan to cooperate with the MLB's investigation. The Astros could not be immediately reached for comment.
Last year, there were reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department were probing the Cardinals for possibly breaking into the Astros' proprietary database network.
St. Louis personnel were suspected of hacking into the Astros' system to undermine the work of Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who left the Cardinals to work for the Astros after the 2011 season.
Luhnow created the same type of computer system in Houston as he had in St. Louis.
The Astros and the Cardinals, like many teams, measure and analyze in-game activities to look for advantages. Correa provided analytical support to the Cardinals’ baseball operations.
The Astros operated a private online database called "Ground Control" to house a wide variety of confidential data, including scouting reports, trade discussions, statistics and contract information, U.S. officials said.
As part of his plea agreement, Correa previously admitted that from March 2013 through at least March 2014, he illicitly entered the database and email accounts of others to gain access to Astros' proprietary information.
(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)