WASHINGTON – The staff of the headquarters of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful baseball teams the past two decades, are being investigated by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, accused of hacking into a internal network of the Houston Astros to steal saved jealously about the players.
Researchers have found evidence that employees Cardinals broke into a network that housed Astros special databases that the team had built, police officials said. Internal discussions on operations, property statistics and scouting reports were committed, the officials, who were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation said.
Officials said no employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the highest-ranking officials of the team were aware of piracy or authorized it. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI field office in Houston and has progressed to the point that the citations were made on Cardinals baseball and major league for electronic correspondence.
Police officials believe that piracy was executed by employees of the central office of revenge for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, general manager of the Astros, who had been a successful executive and polarization with the Cardinals until 2011.
The attack would be the first known case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacked the network from another computer. Illegal intrusions into corporate networks have become commonplace, but are usually held by pirates operating in foreign countries such as Russia and China, who steal large amounts of data or trade secrets for military equipment and electronics.
Major League Baseball “was conscious and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal violation of database operations Astros baseball,” said a spokesman for the Commissioner Rob Manfred in a written statement.
The staff of the cardinals under investigation have not been put on leave, suspended or dismissed. The commissioner’s office probably will wait until the conclusion of the investigation the government to determine whether to take disciplinary action against employees or equipment.
“The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the violation of the security of the database of the Houston Astros'” the team said in a statement. “The team has cooperated fully with the investigation and will continue. Since it is an ongoing federal investigation, it is inappropriate for us to comment further.”
The case is a rare brand of ignominy for the Cardinals, one of the most respected and popular sport organizations. The team has the best record in the majors this season (43-21), regularly commands outsize television ratings and has reached the Series National League Championship nine times since 2000. The Cardinals, who last won the World Series in 2011 with 11 titles of all, second only to the Yankees.