Convicted sex offender indicted after probe into Jaguars’ Jumbotron malfunction

Police mug of Samuel Arthur Thompson (Florida Dept of Law Enforcement/TNS)
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By Dan Scanlan The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) (TNS)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 49-year-old convicted sex offender and former Jacksonville Jaguars Jumbotron operator was indicted Thursday on a charge of obtaining and possessing child sexual abuse images, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Samuel Arthur Thompson’s arrest stems from an investigation into multiple 2018 malfunctions of the Jumbotron screens inside the Jaguars football stadium. It was determined he was a convicted sex offender who had never registered in Florida, prosecutors said.

Thompson also was indicted on charges of possessing a firearm as a felon, failing to register as a sex offender and transmitting damaging commands to a protected computer, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 100 years in federal prison. Thompson was convicted in April 1998 of sexual abuse and sodomy on a child in Alabama, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sexual Offender registry.

Court documents show that Thompson was working with the Jaguars from April 2017 through February 2018, a contract that was not renewed. The Jaguars experienced multiple malfunctions of the Jumbotron during the 2018-19 NFL season, when Thompson was in charge of displays on the video board system, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

A subsequent investigation showed that a computer account associated with Thompson had been used to remotely log into the Jumbotron’s system and send commands to a rogue server in the team’s computer room, which resulted in the Jumbotron outages, prosecutors said.

On July 17 the FBI served a search warrant at Thompson’s home for evidence related to the computer intrusion and found a gun in his nightstand, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Being previously convicted, Thompson is prohibited from possessing a gun.

Federal agents also seized multiple pieces of computer equipment as well as Thompson’s iPhone. A forensic review revealed child sex abuse images received on the cellphone in 2018, with more images on two of the computers confiscated, prosecutors said.

Nine days after the search warrant, Thompson traveled to the Philippines without reporting his trip to law enforcement, a violation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Further investigation showed that he had also gone to the Bahamas in July 2019 and didn’t report it either, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Thompson was arrested Jan. 31 in Los Angeles after he had been deported from the Philippines, prosecutors said.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, ATF, FDLE and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

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