The lawyer for a former financial planning manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars accused of stealing more than $22 million from the franchise said he spent most of that money gambling on sports.
In a news release Dec. 7, the attorney for Amit Patel said his client will plead guilty to the charges of wire fraud and making illegal transactions and that he checked into a rehabilitation center to treat his gambling addiction this spring.
Patel met with NFL officials in February who were investigating his gambling activities, primarily involving daily fantasy sports betting on websites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Later that month, he was fired for using the Jaguars’ money to fund his gambling addiction.
That attorney said 99% of the misappropriated money went to cover his gambling losses to win money back “with the anticipation he would repay the funds with the winnings and make the Jaguars whole.”
According to this federal indictment, Patel used his responsibilities as a manager of financial planning and analysis for the Jacksonville Jaguars to spend the team’s money on personal expenses.
Federal attorneys allege Patel spent more than $22 million of the company’s money via their virtual credit card program on gambling, private jet rides and luxury hotels for himself and his friends, cryptocurrency, a country club membership, spa treatments, event tickets, furniture and luxury wristwatches including one that cost him, but really the Jags, more than $95,000.
A photo in 2014 shows Patel at a poker competition in South Florida.
The indictment said Patel used the money to buy a Tesla and a condo in Ponte Vedra Beach, but his attorney said that wasn’t the case.
“While it has been widely reported that Mr. Patel used the funds to live an extravagant lifestyle, his modest residence was paid for mostly with family money and other money earned. Additionally, Mr. Patel purchased a Tesla Model 3 with his earned funds and traded that in to upgrade his vehicle to a similar Model 3. Mr. Patel did not use the Jaguars’ VCC to fund his lifestyle, but in a horribly misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses that utilized the Jaguars’ VCC program,” Patel’s attorney Alex King said in a statement.
The indictment said Patel ripped off the Jaguars until he was fired in February after beginning the spending spree in the fall of 2019.
It was around that time, that federal attorneys said he became the sole administrator of the Jaguars’ virtual credit card program and began forging expenses in Excel spreadsheets he submitted to the accounting department every month, disguising them to appear as legitimate business expenditures.
The allegations come as the Jaguars and the city are locked in negotiations after the team proposed that taxpayers foot the bill for half of a $2 billion stadium renovation as well as improvements to the surrounding area, so News4JAX reached out to the mayor’s office.
“If the Jags do get taxpayer money, is there some public oversight and transparency to make sure something like this doesn’t happen with it?” News4JAX asked, but a spokesperson said they did not have a comment.
News4JAX also asked City Council President Ron Salem about the allegations.
“I’m not aware of it,” Salem said. “Someone mentioned something to me this morning, but I’ve not seen any details.”
News4JAX followed up by sending a copy of the indictment and Salem responded that he had not read the article and again, had no comment.
A Jaguars spokesperson confirmed Patel was fired in February and the team has been fully cooperating with federal prosecutors and the FBI in the investigation over the past several months.
Patel’s attorney said his client is deeply remorseful and apologies for his conduct
News4jax is a Jacksonville Daily Record news partner