Former Alabama sex offender faces new charges after allegedly hacking NFL jumbotron
United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Samuel Arthur Thompson, 49, of St. Augustine, Florida, with receiving and possessing child sex abuse images, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), and transmitting damaging commands to a protected computer.
If convicted on all counts, Thompson faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, and up to 100 years, in federal prison.
Thompson has been a convicted felon and required to register as a sex offender since 1998, when he was convicted in Alabama of second degree sodomy on a child.
According to court documents, from April 2017 through February 2018, Thompson was a contractor for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
His contract was not renewed, and, as of February 23, 2018, he was no longer employed by the organization. During the 2018 – 2019 NFL season, the Jaguars experienced multiple incidents involving malfunctions of the video board (commonly referred to as a “Jumbotron”) located within the Jaguars’ stadium.
Thompson was identified as the architect of the video board system. A subsequent investigation revealed that an account associated with Thompson had been used to remotely log into the computer system and send commands to a rogue server that had been placed in the Jaguars’ server room, resulting in the outages.
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. As a previously convicted felon, Thompson is prohibited from possessing firearms. 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.
Nine days after the execution of the search warrant, Thompson traveled from the United States to the Philippines without reporting his international travel prior to his departure, in violation of SORNA. Further investigation revealed that Thompson had also traveled to the Bahamas in July 2019 and failed to report that trip.
On January 31, 2020, Thompson was arrested in Los Angeles following his deportation from the Philippines.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case 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. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.
It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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