A former Jacksonville Jaguars employee faces wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction charges after allegedly stealing more than $22 million from the football franchise over the span of a few years.
According to documents filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Amit Patel used his position overseeing the NFL team’s virtual credit card program to siphon away funds he’d masked as legitimate business expenses.
Prosecutors said Patel inflated the amounts of regular team expenses like catering, airfare and hotel charges, and then pocketed the difference. At other times he allegedly concocted “completely fictitious,” yet plausible, transactions that never actually occurred.
The court filing was first reported by The Athletic, which said that a lawyer for Patel did not respond to its interview request by the time its story was published.
The scheme netted $22,221,454.40 between September 2019 and February 2023, which Patel used for extravagant purchases like private air travel and a $95,000 watch, prosectors said.
Patel is also accused of using the money for online gambling, a condo in Ponte Vedra Beach, luxury hotels for himself and his friends, a Tesla Model 3 car, a Nissan pickup truck, a retainer with a criminal defense firm, cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens, electronics, sports memorabilia, a country club membership, spa treatments, tickets to concerts and sporting events, and home furnishings.
In an emailed statement, the Jaguars confirmed to HuffPost that Patel was fired in February.
“As was made clear in the charges, 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 team said.
“This individual had no access to confidential football strategy, personnel or other football information. 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.”