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Jaguars Staffer Steals Millions: Attorney Blames “Gambling Problem” – But is it Just a Cover-Up?

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When we hear about employees embezzling from their employers, it is tempting to question how much accountability these companies have. The more money a company loses, the more we question how could they have been so unaware.

This week’s news from Florida is shocking. A former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars could be one of the craziest Florida man stories with his embezzlement.

Amit Patel was employed by the Jaguars in 2018 and fired from the team in February this year. According to The Athletic, Patel was listed in Jaguar’s media guides under the titles “manager, Financial Planning and Analysis” and “manager, Financial Planning and Analysis.” He allegedly stole $22 million from the Jaguars during his tenure with the team.

The Jaguars released a statement that confirmed the termination of employment in February 2023 by the team for the person named in the complaint. “Over the last several months, we have fully cooperated with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida in their investigation. We thank them for their work on this case.” The charges clearly state that this person was a former financial planner and analyst who used his position of trust to commit fraudulent financial activities at the expense of the team for personal gain.

In the statement, it is also noted that “This individual did not have access to any confidential information about football personnel, football strategy or other football-related matters.” The team hired experienced law and accounting firms for a comprehensive, independent review. This concluded that none of the team’s employees had been involved or were aware of this criminal activity.

Patel was the Jaguars’ department head and was responsible for monthly reports and budgets. But, most importantly for this discussion, he managed the virtual credit card system (VCC), where employees could get a virtual number to charge purchases.

The VCC system was what allowed Patel, a former team member, to exploit the finances of his team. Patel inflated amounts for legitimately recurring transactions. He also entered fictitious transactions.

Documents in court allege Patel bet on sports, paid for his travel and that of friends, bought a Nissan pickup, a Tesla, and a condo with the money from the team. He is charged with one count each of wire fraud, and illegal monetary transactions.

The court stated that if Patel is convicted, he will be required to forfeit “at least $22,221,454.40 which represents the proceeds from the offense, in addition to any assets purchased or funded using the proceeds and/or engaged in an illegal financial transaction.”

You can’t but wonder who is in charge of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ store when the man who was responsible for the budget commits a financial fraud.

Update: Patel’s lawyer told The Athletic his client has a “serious addiction to gambling” and intends to plead guilty.

The Athletic reported that “Alex King” said his client Amit Patel had bet money on daily fantasy sports, football, and the company’s VCC program. When the losses began to mount, Patel used the fraudulently acquired funds to subsidize the losses. However, the attorney was unable to confirm if Patel had betted on Jaguars games.

King claimed that Patel had used the VCC fees to pay off gambling debts. He denies using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle. Patel continued to misappropriate money to offset his losses.

Patel, according to King, has cooperated fully with the investigation. However, King does not know if a guilty plea would result in jail time.

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