Ex-Jacksonville Jaguars Manager Charged with Stealing $22M From Team to Fund Fantasy Sports

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Amit Patel, a former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is facing federal charges for allegedly embezzling more than $22 million from the Florida-based NFL team.

Patel served in various roles during his tenure with the Jaguars from 2019 to February 2023, including as the sole overseer of the franchise’s virtual credit card program. He is accused of exploiting this position for personal gain and covering his crimes by inflating the cost of legitimate charges to the business.

Along with a Florida condominium, luxury watches, and a new Tesla, Patel’s attorney says most of the money went on playing daily fantasy sports at FanDuel and DraftKings.

“Over the past several months, we have cooperated fully with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida during their investigation, and thank them for their efforts in this case,” said the Jaguars in a statement to sports journal The Athletic.

“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.”

Exploiting Virtual Credit Card Program

Florida sports betting was not legal during Patel’s fraud spree, having only opened for legal wagers in late 2023. That was after a two-year legal challenge to Hard Rock Bet. Online and retail sports betting in Florida is now fully available as of early December, including retail betting at Hard Rock’s Florida casinos.

However, Daily Fantasy Sports was readily available to Patel.

Many regulators across the U.S, including in Florida, have recently started cracking down on Pick ‘Em games, which they say are equivalent to full sports betting.

According to the charges, Patel’s fraudulent activities involved duplicating reoccurring credit card transactions, inflating legitimate expenses, and creating entirely fictitious transactions.

The alleged embezzlement, which began in September 2019, was executed through the team’s virtual credit cards. The funds were used for extravagant personal purchases, such as two vehicles, a condominium, a designer watch from Patek, and various cryptocurrency investments.

However, Patel’s attorney suggests that the majority of the funds stolen went on playing daily fantasy sports.

“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,” said a statement from Patel’s attorney.

“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.”

Response and Rehabilitation

Patel’s attorney has issued a press release responding to the allegations, stating that Patel is currently undergoing treatment for his problem gambling habits.

“Mr. Patel suffers from a serious gambling addiction, and in the spring of this year, checked himself into extensive, inpatient rehabilitation to address his addiction. Mr. Patel’s serious gambling addiction does not excuse his actions, which he takes full responsibility for.”

The Jaguars, though not explicitly mentioned in the federal filing, have confirmed Patel’s alleged misconduct and are cooperating with the investigation.

 The Jaguars also emphasized that the fraud did not affect or intersect with the team’s sporting operations, and that accounting investigations concluded Patel acted alone.

“This individual had no access to confidential football strategy, personnel, or other football information,” The Jaguars 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 faces charges of wire fraud and illegal monetary transactions. If convicted, he could be compelled to forfeit property equivalent to the stolen amount, estimated at $22,221,454.40.

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