Sex offender, former Jaguars employee who hacked jumbotron sentenced to 220 years in prison

A U.S. district judge in Florida sentenced a convicted sex offender to 220 years in federal prison for producing, receiving and possessing child pornography and hacking into the jumbotron at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium after the team failed to renew its contract after learning he was a registered sex offender.

U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis sentenced Samuel Arthur Thompson, 53, on Tuesday for the crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said in a statement. A federal jury convicted Thompson in November 2023 of the crimes, as well as producing child pornography while required to register as a sex offender, violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

Thompson had previously been convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Alabama in 1998 and was required to register as a sex offender.

Federal prosecutors said in their release that Thompson was hired by the Jaguars around 2013 to help design and install the stadium’s main screen and was then assigned to operate it on game days.

“Thompson’s contract with the Jaguars required him to report his conviction, but he failed to do so. In January 2018, the Jaguars decided not to renew Thompson’s contract after learning of his conviction and status as a registered sex offender,” the statement read. “Prior to the expiration of Thompson’s contract in March 2018, Thompson installed remote access software on a backup server in the Jaguars’ server room. Thompson then remotely accessed the computers controlling the Jumbotron during three NFL games in the 2018 season, causing repeated video card malfunctions.

The Jaguars eventually found a backup server, and during their next game in December 2018, they captured the IP address of the intruder attempting to remotely control the jumbotron. According to the release, the FBI traced the intruder’s IP address to Thompson’s residence.

In July 2019, the FBI searched Thompson’s home, seizing his computers and a firearm that he was prohibited from possessing as a convicted felon. According to the release, the FBI found files from Thompson’s devices that showed they had been used to remotely access the backup server, as well as thousands of images and hundreds of videos depicting child pornography.

“Samuel Thompson repeatedly abused and exploited innocent children, inflicting immeasurable harm on his victims,” Coult Markovsky, the special agent in charge of FBI Jacksonville, said in a statement. “He also abused and exploited his employer by installing malicious software to manipulate his systems, which could have caused significantly greater harm if undetected.”

In a statement released in November after Thompson’s conviction, the Jaguars thanked prosecutors for their work on the case.

(Photo: Perry Knotts/Getty Images)