Former Jaguars employee accused of stealing more than $22M from team in court filing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A former financial manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars has been accused of stealing more than $22 million from the franchise through its virtual credit card program between 2019 and 2023, according to a seven-page court filing.

Amit Patel, who worked for the Jaguars for five years starting in 2018, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of illegal monetary transaction in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville. If convicted, he may be required to forfeit property and assets purchased or funded with the proceeds, the filing states.

A statement from the Jaguars confirmed they are “Business A” referred to as the victim in the documents.

“We can confirm that in February 2023, the team terminated the employment of the individual named in the filing,” the team said in a statement. “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.

“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.

“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.”

The Athletic first reported the court filling.

Patel is accused of using the money to buy two vehicles — a Tesla and Nissan pickup truck — a condominium in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach, a designer watch for $95,000, cryptocurrency and place bets with online gambling sites, according to the filing.

He also allegedly used the money to buy sports memorabilia, a country club membership, spa treatments and tickets to sporting events and concerts. And he chartered private jets for himself and friends and lodged a retainer with a criminal defense law firm.

Patel’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Patel is listed in Jaguars’ media guides from 2018-22. His titles during those years were coordinator, financial planning and analysis, and then manager, financial planning and analysis.

Patel oversaw the company’s monthly financial statements and department budgets and served as the club’s administrator of its virtual credit card program, which according to the filing allowed authorized employees to “request VCC’s for business-related purchases or expenses.”

Patel’s authority over the VCC program allowed him to make the fraudulent transactions, the filing said. He allegedly duplicated and inflated transactions for items such as catering, airfare and hotel charges and filed fake transactions that seemed legit.