Amit Patel, a former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been accused of stealing over $22 million from the franchise by exploiting the organization’s virtual credit card program. The illegal activity occurred from 2019 to 2023.
Patel, who worked for the Jaguars for five years beginning in 2018, reportedly used the stolen money to purchase vehicles, a condominium and an expensive designer watch worth over $95,000. The funds were also used for online betting.
At the present time, Patel has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of illegal monetary transaction. If convicted, he could be forced to forfeit property in the amount of at least $22,221,454.40.
Patel’s lawyer, Alex King, said that his client plans to plead guilty to both charges. King also stated that Patel suffers from a gambling addiction that played a major role in his decision to steal funds from the Jaguars.
“It started with a little bit and, as these things usually do, spiraled wildly out of control,” King said, via The Athletic.
King said that his client would consistently bet on football and play daily fantasy sports, and mounting losses in these areas ultimately pushed Patel to use the fraudulently obtained money. In a statement released recently, King revealed that approximately 99 percent of the stolen funds were used on gambling, mostly on FanDuel and DraftKings.
“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. “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.”
The NFL first contacted Patel in February to let him know that his activity was being investigated. The Jaguars then fired Patel following his meeting with the league.
According to King, Patel has taken full responsibility for his actions, including checking himself into rehab to deal with his addiction earlier this year. He has also fully cooperated with all investigations.
During his time with the Jaguars, Patel served as a manager of financial planning and analysis. In that role, he oversaw the team’s financials and budgets. He also served as the administrator of the virtual credit card program.
Ultimately, King said that he does expect Patel to serve some jail time once the legal process is complete.
If this scandal has served as a distraction for the Jaguars at all this season, it hasn’t been evident on the field. Jacksonville currently sits atop the AFC South with a record of 8-4, and it appears poised for its second straight playoff appearance.
But, before the Jaguars can think about the postseason they have to get through the rest of the regular season first. They have five games remaining on their schedule, and those come against the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.