- Amit Patel, who worked as manager of financial planning and analysis took advantage of his position to covertly and intentionally commit significant fraudulent financial activity at the team’s expense for personal benefit.
An Indian American former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars is accused of stealing more than $22 million from the NFL franchise. Amit Patel, who worked in the finance department of the team for five years “exploited the organization’s virtual credit card program, used that money for personal use,” The Athletic reported. Some of that money was “allegedly used to purchase cryptocurrency and place bets with online gambling sites,” the report added. The Jacksonville Jaguars is owned by Pakistani American billionaire businessman and sports tycoon Shahid Rafiq “Shad” Khan.
The documents filed in the in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Florida, does not name the Jaguars, and were referred to as “Business A,” according to The Athletic, which first reported the court filling on Dec. 5. The team confirmed to the publication that it was the victim of Patel’s alleged crimes. “We can confirm that in February 2023, the team terminated the employment of the individual named in the filing,” the team said in a statement sent to the subscription-based sports journalism website, and the sports department of The New York Times.
The team further said that Patel was a former manager of financial planning and analysis “who took advantage of his trusted position to covertly and intentionally commit significant fraudulent financial activity at the team’s expense for personal benefit.” However, they mentioned that Patel “had no access to confidential football strategy, personnel or other football information, and are sure that “no other team employees were involved in or aware of his criminal activity.”
Patel is listed in the Jaguars’ media guides from 2018-2022. His titles during those years were coordinator, financial planning and analysis, and then manager, financial planning and analysis. He was fired by the team in February.
Court documents show allege that in 2019, Patel became the “sole administrator” for the organization’s virtual credit card program, “which gave him the ability to approve new accounts and request changes to available credit,” according to The Athletic. He also was responsible for classifying virtual credit card transactions in business reports. Prosecutors allege that, as part of this scheme, Patel used fraudulent credit card charges of $22,221,454.40 to purchase several things over the years. They include: Bets with online gambling websites; a brand new Tesla Model 3; a Nissan pickup truck; membership at a country club; two-bedroom condo in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; personal travel for himself and friends, including chartering private jets and booking luxury hotels and private rental residences; cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs); electronics and sports memorabilia; concert and sporting event tickets; home furnishings; luxury watch and a retainer with a criminal defense law firm.
Meanwhile Patel’s attorney Alex King told The Athletic that his client bet on football and daily fantasy sports and “when his losses started to pile up, began using fraudulently obtained money from the company’s virtual credit card (VCC) program to subsidize those losses.” He said the addiction “started with a little bit and, as these things usually do, spiraled wildly out of control.” King spoke to the publication on Dec. 7, two days after his client was charged.
In a news release King said that approximately 99 percent of the funds from the Jaguars’ virtual credit card program were gambling losses, almost all occurring on FanDuel and DraftKings. King said his client takes full responsibility for his actions and in the spring of this year checked himself into an inpatient rehabilitation to deal with his addiction. “Almost the entirety of the funds Mr. Patel used from the VCC were spent on the gambling websites and efforts to win money back, with the anticipation he would repay the funds with the winnings and make the Jaguars whole,” King said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Mr. Patel’s compulsive gambling only exacerbated the situation, and he continued to misappropriate funds in an effort to have gambling winnings offset his significant losses.”
Patel was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of illegal monetary transaction. If convicted, he may be required to forfeit property “in the amount of at least $22,221,454.40, which represents the proceeds of the offense” in addition to assets “purchased or funded with the proceeds of the offenses and/or involved in an illegal monetary transaction,” the filing states.
King added in the news release that his client has “fully cooperated” and “will continue to cooperate” with the Jaguars, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in their investigation. He said he does expect his client to serve jail time, though that will not be determined until his sentencing agreement, which will follow the pre-sentence investigation report prepared by the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office.