Sports

Former Jacksonville Jaguars employee allegedly took millions from team

Reports say the suspect and former employee also met with NFL officials amid an investigation into his gambling habits, including sports betting.

An NFL football game with Jacksonville Jaguars.
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
SMS

A former employee for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who local reports identified as the team's former financial planning manager, is accused of manipulating the NFL franchise's virtual credit card program in a scheme to steal over $22 million. 

Federal investigators and the team say Amit Patel used most of the money he allegedly stole to feed a sports betting and gambling addiction. According to at least one report, Patel's attorney said his client plans to plead guilty to charges. Nearly all of Patel's stolen money is said to have gone to fuel his gambling addiction, his attorney said. 

The theft carried on over a period of time, "with the anticipation he would repay the funds with the winnings and make the Jaguars whole," according to his attorney. 

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Patel, who is said to have broken NFL rules by engaging in any kind of sports betting, is also accused of spending the money on a lavish lifestyle that included the purchase of a condo and trips on private flights. Patel worked for the Jaguars for five years after he was hired in 2018, according to court documents obtained by The Athletic. He is accused of using stolen funds to purchase a designer watch worth over $95,000, multiple vehicles and cryptocurrency which he used to place bets through online gambling websites. 

In court documents, the Jaguars are referred to as "Business A," and not named directly. 

In a statement, the franchise said, "This individual 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." 

The statement said, "The team engaged experienced law and accounting firms to conduct a comprehensive independent review, which concluded that no other team employees were involved in or aware of his criminal activity."

Patel had become the sole administrator of the team's virtual credit card program when he started to forge expenses in spreadsheets and went on a spending spree in the fall of 2019. 

Patel’s attorney said his client is remorseful and has apologized for what he is accused of.