Former St. Louis Cardinals scouting coach Chris Correa plans to plead guilty Friday to criminal charges related to the breach of the Houston Astros data servers last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Correa was fired in July following the opening of a federal probe into the alleged hacking.
In its investigation, the Justice Department uncovered evidence linking Cardinals officials to an unauthorized entry to the Astros’ database in 2014, accessing internal communications about player trades, scouting reports, and team statistics.
The breach was purported to be revenge against a former Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow who became the Astros’ general manager.
The case represents what could be the sports industry’s first prosecuted corporate espionage case. Correa reportedly will plead guilty to five of 12 related charges. There’s no additional information available about what charges are included or their corresponding penalties.
But media reports speculated that charged officials could incur heavy penalties for computer hacking under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) — a law that has been used to convict malicious hackers but has also been used to prosecute more innocuous online behavior, such as downloading documents or using a shared password.
Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide after the Justice Department charged him with criminal hacking under the CFAA for downloading documents from a research database. He was facing up to 35 years and $1 million in fines for downloading millions of academic articles.
The MLB is expected to make a statement regarding Correa’s case later today.