Jumbotron hacker discovered to be unregistered St Johns County sex offender

Today, United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced to Historic City News the return of an indictment against 49-year-old Samuel Arthur Thompson of St Augustine.  He is charged with receiving and possessing child sex-abuse images, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and transmitting damaging commands to a protected computer system or device.

Thompson began working as a contractor for the Jacksonville Jaguars beginning in April 2017.  He was identified as the architect of the video board within Jaguars’ stadium that is commonly referred to as a “Jumbotron”.  His contract was not renewed, according to court documents.  As of February 23, 2018, he was no longer employed by the organization.

During the following 2018 – 2019 NFL season, the Jaguars experienced multiple incidents involving malfunctions of the Jumbotron.  A subsequent investigation revealed that the outages were the result of remotely issued commands sent to a rogue server that had been placed in the Jaguars’ server room.  The account that was used was associated with Thompson.

On July 17, 2019, the FBI executed a search warrant at Thompson’s residence for evidence related to the computer intrusion. During the search, agents recovered a firearm from Thompson’s nightstand.  The FBI also seized multiple pieces of computer equipment and Thompson’s iPhone.

A review of the electronic items revealed that Thompson had received child sex-abuse images on his iPhone in 2018 and that Thompson had additional child sex-abuse images on two of the computers.

  • Convicted in Alabama of sodomy against a child, Thompson has been required to register as a sex offender since 1998.  And, as a previously convicted felon, Thompson is prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Further investigation revealed that Thompson had traveled internationally without reporting his travel prior to departure, in violation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.  In July 2019, he traveled from the United States to the Bahamas.
  • Then, nine-days after the execution of the search warrant, Thompson traveled internationally without reporting his travel prior to departure. He traveled from the United States to the Philippines.

On January 31, 2020, Thompson was arrested in Los Angeles following his deportation from the Philippines.  If convicted on all counts charged in the indictment, Thompson faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15-years, up to a possible sentence of 100-years in federal prison.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law.  Every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case, another brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.  This nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice targets the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Local, state, and federal resources are employed to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.