NATIONAL NEWS

Convicted sex offender found guilty of hacking jumbotron at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium

Nov 17, 2023, 2:32 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A convicted child molester was found guilty Friday of hacking the jumbotron at the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium after the team learned he was a registered sex offender and fired him.

A federal jury found 53-year-old Samuel Arthur Thompson, of St. Augustine, guilty of producing, receiving and possessing sexual images of children, producing such images while required to register as a sex offender, violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, sending unauthorized damaging commands to a protected computer and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to court records.

Thompson faces a mandatory minimum of 35 years in prison when he’s sentenced March 25.

Thompson was arrested in early 2020 after being deported by the Philippines back to the U.S., officials said. He had fled to the Southeast Asia country about six months earlier, after the FBI executed a search warrant at his home a seized several of his computers, according to a criminal complaint.

According to court records, Thompson was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Alabama in 1998. Among other things, the conviction required him to register as a sex offender and to report any international travel.

The Jaguars hired Thompson as a contractor in 2013 to consult on the design and installation of their new video board network and later to operate the jumbotron on gamedays, investigators said. The team chose not to renew his contract in 2018 after learning of his conviction and status as a sex offender.

According to prosecutors, before Thompson’s contract ended in March 2018, he installed remote access software on a spare server in the Jaguars’ server room. He then remotely accessed computers that control the jumbotron during three 2018 season games, causing the video boards to malfunction repeatedly.

The Jaguars eventually found the spare server and removed its access to the jumbotron, prosecutors said. The next time the server was accessed during a game, the team was able to collect network information about the intruder, which the FBI traced to Thompson’s home, prosecutors said.

The FBI executed a search warrant at Thompson’s residence in July 2019 and seized a phone, a tablet and two laptops, which had all be used to access the spare jumbotron server, according to log files. Agents also said they seized a firearm, which Thompson was prohibited from possessing as a convicted felon.

The FBI also found thousands of images and hundreds of videos of child sexual abuse on the devices. The files included videos and images that Thompson had produced a month before the raid on his home that depicted children that had been in his care and custody, investigators said.

The Jaguars released a statement thanking federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their work on the case.

“We are proud of our current and former employees who provided evidence and testimony to assist in the conviction,” the statement said.

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Convicted sex offender found guilty of hacking jumbotron at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium