Fans of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars more than likely noticed their team’s Jumbotron malfunctioning during the 2018 season. It was actually being hacked at the time by a former employee of the team and that person, a convicted child rapist, is now facing decades in prison.
53-year-old Samuel Arthur Thompson has been found guilty by a federal jury of "sending unauthorized damaging commands to a protected computer," the Department of Justice announced on Friday.
Thompson was hired by the NFL team around 2013 as a consultant on the design and installation of their then-new giant video board. The DOJ says that Thompson, who was convicted of sodomizing of a 14-year-old male child in Alabama in 1998, was supposed to notify the Jaguars of his previous conviction, but failed to do so. When the NFL team finally learned of Thompson’s conviction, they decided not to renew his contract in 2018.
In retaliation, Thompson installed remote access software to a spare server in the Jaguars’ server room before his contract expired. He then remotely accessed the team’s servers during three 2018 season games and caused the video boards to repeatedly malfunction. The Jaguars caught on to the reason why the Jumbotron was malfunctioning and set up a “honeypot” to catch the culprit, which led them to Thompson.
In July 2019, the FBI raided Thompson’s home and seized his computers and phone. But the FBI found evidence of more crimes beyond just the Jumbotron hacking.
The FBI seized a firearm from Thompson’s nightstand, which he was not permitted to have due to his status as a convicted felon. And searching Thompson's computers and phone led to investigators discovering “thousands of images and hundreds of videos… depicting CSAM” (child sex abuse material) including “a video and series of photos that Thompson produced in June 2019 depicting children that had been in his care and custody," according to the DOJ.