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Chris Correa still alleges Astros first stole information from Cardinals

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)
Former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa on Tuesday said he accepts responsibility for a breach of the Houston Astros' baseball operations database, but he maintains that the Astros were the team that first stole information.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday placed Correa on the "permanently ineligible list" and penalized the Cardinals, who must pay the Astros $2 million and give them their top two picks in the 2017 draft (Nos. 56 and 75 overall).

Correa on Tuesday issued a statement on Twitter saying his actions came as the result of finding out that the Astros first stole the Cardinals' data.

"On December 21, 2011, a Houston Astros employee accessed proprietary data on a St. Louis Cardinals server. Later, I would learn -- through unlawful methods -- that Cardinals' data were used extensively from 2012 through 2014," Correa said in the statement, which he said would be his last while he serves a 46-month prison sentence.

"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 Assistant General Manager, were included in e-mail discussions about these efforts."

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Correa asked his family to release the statement once MLB had completed its investigation.

Correa pleaded guilty in federal court in January 2016 to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer for intruding into the Astros' email system and analytical scouting database in 2013 and 2014. He was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay the Astros $279,038.65 as restitution. The Cardinals fired Correa in 2015 after their own internal investigation.

A Houston judge last week unsealed documents from Correa's case that illustrated the "unfettered access" he had to Houston's internal databases. Though portions of the documents remained redacted, they show Correa intruded in the Astros' "Ground Control" database 48 times and accessed the accounts of five Astros employees over a 2-year period starting in January 2012.

Correa looked at the Astros' medical evaluations of possible draft picks, internal scouting reports and trade discussions with other teams.

Despite claims by Correa saying otherwise, Manfred, in a statement issued Tuesday, said Correa "steadfastly refused to answer any questions" after the federal investigation and opposed handing over any documents to MLB.

"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,'" Manfred's statement said. "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."

In 2015, Correa's lawyer said his client denied "any illegal conduct" and that "the relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to, or benefited from that roguish behavior."

Jeff Luhnow, who headed the Cardinals' scouting and player development department and was a key proponent of the team's Redbird database, was hired as the Astros general manager in December 2011. At least one former Cardinals employee -- Sig Mejdal, a former NASA employee and analytics expert -- joined Luhnow in Houston.

The Post-Dispatch, citing sources, reported the Cardinals never filed a complaint based on Correa's allegations to MLB or the commissioner's office.

In his statement Tuesday, Correa said he volunteered to meet with the commissioner "to answer any question and share my concerns about intellectual property theft," but that the commissioner "was unresponsive." Manfred said Monday that Correa failed to "provide any cooperation" with MLB's investigation.

"I am unimpressed with Major League Baseball's commitment to fair and just sanctions in this matter," Correa wrote Tuesday. "The Cardinals were not the organization that benefited from unauthorized access.

"... I accept responsibility for my wrongful actions and am paying my debt to society. The Cardinals organization must now pay a heavy price as well. But punishment does not function as a deterrent when sanctions are applied arbitrarily."

The Cardinals have maintained that Correa was acting alone and kept the details of his illegal findings to himself, and Manfred said Monday he had found no evidence that any other Cardinals employees knew of Correa's actions.

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