JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former Jacksonville Jaguars employee will plead guilty to bank fraud and illegal money transaction after being accused of stealing more than $22 million from the organization by using a virtual credit card.
The list of items Amit Patel allegedly purchased with this card is extensive and includes a Ponte Vedra Condo, a Tesla, a truck and a $95,000 watch, just to name a few.
However, Patel’s lawyer argued that these items were purchased legally and 99 percent of the misused funds were spent on gambling, an addiction for which Patel is now receiving treatment.
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“Almost all of the funds used by Mr. Patel from VCC were spent on gambling websites and clawback efforts, with the expectation that he would repay the funds with the profits and make the Jaguars whole.” Unfortunately, Mr. Patel’s compulsive gambling only made the situation worse and he continued to embezzle funds in an attempt to make up for his significant losses in gambling winnings,” Patel’s attorney Alex King wrote in a press release.
Original story: Ex-Jaguars employee accused of stealing more than $22 million from team to buy apartment, crypto, cars
Patel was the manager of financial planning and analysis for the Jacksonville Jaguars and was accused of spending more than $22 million of the team’s money on personal expenses.
While the court documents did not specifically name the Jaguars, the team confirmed Patel’s alleged scheme.
“As the allegations make clear, this individual is a former manager of financial planning and analysis who took advantage of his position of trust to secretly and intentionally conduct significant fraudulent financial activity at the expense of the team for personal gain,” a Jaguars spokesperson told Action News Jax in an emailed statement.
We tried to reach Patel at the apartment he allegedly paid for with Jaguars funds and at a home in E-Town owned by his parents, but no one answered the door.
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Patel administered the team’s virtual credit card program and is accused of concealing his fraudulent transactions by inflating the reported costs of legitimate transactions and inserting fictitious transactions that appeared to be legitimate.
“It shows skill, but it also shows that we can’t allow an individual, one person, to have that level of involvement with the accounting structure of the organization,” Action News Jax legal and safety expert Dale Carson said.
Carson explained that Patel could face serious prison time… Up to 20 years.
“The exposure here is significant because exposure to time in custody is related to the volume of theft. The higher it is, the bigger the sentence,” Carson said.
This potential sentence may be reduced depending on how much of the allegedly stolen money can be recovered.
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But Cason said that could be difficult, especially if the lawyer’s claim that almost all of the money was spent on gambling turns out to be true.
“But the government will certainly be able to recover all kinds of tangible assets, watches, apartments, cars and things like that,” Carson said.
In addition to some of the alleged purchases we’ve already listed, Patel is also accused of spending team money to buy county club memberships and even hire a criminal defense law firm.
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“Mr. Patel is deeply remorseful and apologetic for his conduct. He loved working for the Jacksonville Jaguars and regrets his actions that both cost him his dream job and harmed the organization,” it said. King in Thursday’s press release.
The full statement released by Patel’s lawyers:
December 7, 2023
PRESS RELEASE – for immediate distribution
In February of this year, Mr. Patel met with NFL officials who were investigating his gambling activities, mostly related to Daily Fantasy Sports. Following that meeting, Mr. Patel was suspended and later terminated from his position with the Jacksonville Jaguars stemming from his gambling activities using the Jaguars’ Virtual Credit Card (VCC) program. During his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mr. Patel used VCC funds to bet on Daily Fantasy Sports, the majority of which was done on FanDuel and a significant portion on DraftKings. Approximately 99% of the funds embezzled by the Jaguars VCC were gambling losses, almost all of which occurred on these two websites. The losses were most significant in recent months leading up to the NFL investigation.
Mr Patel suffers from a serious gambling addiction and in the spring of this year entered extensive inpatient rehabilitation to deal with his addiction. Mr. Patel’s serious gambling addiction does not excuse his actions, for which he takes full responsibility. Although incomprehensible to most, gambling addiction is similar to substance abuse, so the disorder can stimulate a dopamine response in the brain similar to drugs or alcohol. It creates an uncontrollable desire to continue gambling despite the burden it places on life, and creates a desire to risk more and more despite the impact it has. Almost all of the funds Mr. Patel used from VCC were spent on gambling websites and clawback efforts, with the expectation that he would repay the funds with profits and make the Jaguars whole. Unfortunately, Mr. Patel’s compulsive gambling only made the situation worse and he continued to embezzle funds in an attempt to offset his significant losses with gambling winnings.
Although it was widely reported that Mr. Patel used the funds to live an extravagant lifestyle, his modest residence was paid for primarily with family money and other earnings. In addition, Mr. Patel purchased a Tesla Model 3 with his winnings and traded it in to upgrade his vehicle to a similar Model 3. Mr. Patel did not use Jaguars VCC to finance his lifestyle, but in a horribly misguided attempt to pay back previous gambling losses that used the Jaguars’ VCC program.
Mr Patel is deeply remorseful and apologizes for his behaviour. He loved working for the Jacksonville Jaguars and regrets his actions that led to both losing his dream job and damaging the organization. Mr. Patel remains in treatment and recovery for his gambling addiction and intends to seek continued treatment for the foreseeable future. To further these efforts, he founded Round Robin Recovery LLC to help others struggling with gambling addiction and remains active in the treatment community. He has cooperated fully and will continue to cooperate with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office in their investigation of his conduct. Mr. Patel intends to plead guilty to resolve the charges against him and takes full responsibility for his actions. Mr. Patel apologizes to the team he enjoyed working with, to his former colleagues, and to his family and the Jacksonville community. Further questions may be directed to Mr. Patel’s attorney, Alex King, Esq.
— First Coastal Criminal Defense
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