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St. Augustine man accused of 'hacking' Jaguars Jumbotron leads to child porn charges

Samuel Arthur Thompson, 49, was indicted on charges of receiving and possessing child sex abuse images, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and more.

A St. Augustine man was indicted for multiple charges Wednesday in a strange case that started with the "hacking" of the Jacksonville Jaguars Jumbotron and led to child pornography charges.

Samuel Arthur Thompson, 49, was indicted on charges of receiving and possessing child sex abuse images, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and more, according to a Thursday news release from the Department of Justice.

This all began when Thompson was working for a company contracted by the Jacksonville Jaguars from April 2017 through February 2018. His contract was not renewed, and, as of February 23, 2018, he was no longer employed by the organization. 

During the 2018 to 2019 NFL season, the Jaguars reported experiencing multiple incidents involving malfunctions of the Jumbotron, according to the news release.

Thompson was identified by staff as the architect of the video board system and an investigation revealed that an account associated with Thompson had been used to remotely log into their system, the news release states. Thompson reportedly used this account to send commands to a rogue server that had been placed in the Jaguars’ server room, resulting in the outages.

In July 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 and child sex images on his iPhone and computer, according to the news release.

The investigation also revealed that Thompson was a convicted felon and a registered sex offender since 1998, when he was convicted in Alabama of second-degree sodomy on a child.

However, nine days after the execution of the search warrant, court documents say Thompson traveled from the United States to the Philippines without reporting his international travel. Further investigation revealed that Thompson had also traveled to the Bahamas in July 2019 and failed to report that trip. 

In January this year, Thompson was arrested in Los Angeles following his arrival from the Philippines.

If convicted on all counts, Thompson faces a minimum penalty of 15 years and a maximum of up to 100 years in federal prison.

The Jaguars released the following statement in response to Thompson's arrest: “We are aware of the charges involving a former contractor, and we have cooperated with the investigation as requested. We cannot otherwise comment on this legal matter.” 

Neighbors of Thompson told First Coast News that Thompson lived with his wife and step-child in their St. Augustine home for several years.

This 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.