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Florida Jumbotron Hacker, Prolific Child Molester Sentenced | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey | #hacking | #aihp

A 53-year-old Florida jumbotron hacker and prolific child molester has been sentenced to federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis sentenced Samuel Arthur Thompson, of St. Augustine, to 220 years in federal prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for producing, receiving, and possessing child sex abuse material (CSAM), producing CSAM while required to register as a sex offender, violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), sending unauthorized damaging commands to a protected computer, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The court also ordered Thompson to forfeit computers and a firearm that were used in the offenses.

According to court documents and information presented at trial and sentencing, Thompson was convicted of sodomizing of a 14-year-old male child in Alabama in 1998 and was therefore a convicted felon and required to register as a sex offender, including reporting his international travel. Thompson was also prohibited from possessing firearms as a convicted felon.

Thompson was hired as a contractor by the Jacksonville Jaguars around 2013 to consult on the design and installation of the Jaguars’ new video board network, referred to as a Jumbotron, and later to operate the Jumbotron on gamedays. Thompson’s contract with the Jaguars required him to report his conviction, but he did not. In January 2018, the Jaguars determined not to renew Thompson’s contract after learning of his conviction and status as a registered sex offender.

Before the expiration of Thompson’s contract in March 2018, Thompson installed remote access software on a spare server in the Jaguars’ server room. Thompson then remotely accessed computers that controlled the Jumbotron during three 2018 season NFL games, causing the video boards to repeatedly malfunction.

After conducting an investigation, the Jaguars determined that the outages were being caused by a malicious actor sending commands via the spare server. On December 16, 2018, the Jacksonville Jaguars set up a “honeypot” by putting the server on its own network and removing its access to the other computers that controlled the jumbotron. During the next NFL game, the spare server was again remotely accessed and attempted to be used to send commands to computers controlling the Jumbotron. The Jaguars were able to capture the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the intruder – which the Federal Bureau of Investigation traced to Thompson’s residence.

In July 2019, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at Thompson’s home and seized a number of his computers. They also seized a firearm from Thompson’s nightstand, which he was prohibited from possessing as a convicted felon.

Log files from Thompson’s iPhone, iPad, and two laptops showed that each of those devices had been used to remotely access the spare server. Additionally, the FBI found thousands of images and hundreds of videos on Thompson’s personal devices depicting CSAM, including images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children, bondage and torture of children, and bestiality. The CSAM also included a video and series of photos that Thompson had produced in June 2019. Thompson’s voice could be heard speaking to the children at the beginning of the video, which was taken in Thompson’s living room. A review of Thompson’s iPad further revealed that he had been searching the dark web for CSAM at the time the FBI knocked on his door with the search warrant.

Subsequent interviews of three male children known to Thompson in 2019 revealed that Thompson had molested two of the children, exposed himself to them, exposed the children to CSAM, spoke to the children about sex and masturbation, and had encouraged the children to play a “game” wherein the children were required to take off their clothes and run around. It was while the children were playing the “game” that Thompson produced CSAM. The children were 7, 8, and 10 years old at the time.

Thompson traveled to The Bahamas on a work trip from July 6 – 14, 2019. On July 15, 2019, Thompson registered as a sex offender and failed to report this travel as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). That same day, Thompson also received CSAM via the dark web.

On July 27, 2019, Thompson fled to the Philippines – once again failing to report his travel. Thompson’s passport was revoked, and he was deported from the Philippines on January 31, 2020, and was arrested by the FBI upon arrival in the United States and later ordered detained pending trial.

Further investigation by the FBI revealed that Thompson had sexually exploited two additional children, including one child that Thompson encountered as he was fleeing from prosecution in July 2019.

“This case exemplifies the unrelenting tenacity of investigators who pursue justice for innocent victims of crime,” said FBI Jacksonville’s Acting Special Agent in Charge Coult Markovsky. “Samuel Thompson repeatedly abused and exploited innocent children, inflicting immeasurable hurt on his victims. He also abused and exploited his employer by installing malicious software to manipulate their systems, which could have caused significantly more damage if not detected. Let this sentence serve as a pledge to all victims of crime that the FBI and our partners will doggedly pursue those who prey on them.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Cofer Taylor, Brenna Falzetta, and Adam Duso. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Mai Tran and Jennifer Harrington. Thompson was convicted by a federal jury on November 17, 2023.

This case was 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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.

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