JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The “architect” of the Jaguars’ video board system is accused of repeatedly hacking the giant scoreboards during the 2018 season, after his contract was not renewed by the team, according to an indictment announced Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Samuel Arthur Thompson, 49, who is a registered sex offender, is also charged with having child sex abuse images, illegally possessing a firearm and traveling without notifying authorities.
Investigators said that Thompson was a contractor for the Jaguars from April 2017 to February 2018, when his contract was not renewed. He was let go, sources told News4Jax, because whistleblowers raised concerns about his criminal history.
During the 2018-19 season, the Jaguars’ giant video boards inside the stadium malfunctioned several times, and an investigation traced the cause to an account connected to Thompson.
Investigators said the account had been used to remotely log into the computer system and send commands to a rogue server that had been placed in the Jaguars’ server room, resulting in the outages.
IT expert Chris Hamer said Thompson had access to a vulnerable system – the Jags videos boards – with the potential to reach tens of thousands of people within seconds. And the fact he was a sex offender put everyone at risk.
“He could have exposed them to ransomware, encrypted everything and demanded an extortion payment that would have been untraceable,” Hamer said. “He could have downed the entire network he could have showed inappropriate content on the big screens during a broadcast.”
Video shows that Thompson was a director when the Jaguars unveiled the new video boards in 2014. His LinkedIn profile says he worked for the Jaguars as a control room engineer from 2013 to 2018. He also worked on projects across the country even directed video coverage of the last space shuttle launch in 2011, according to his resume.