‘He betrayed us’ | Ex Jacksonville Jaguars employee sentenced to prison after embezzling $22million from the team

Ex Jacksonville Jaguars employee sentenced to prison after embezzling $22million from the team

Former Jacksonville Jaguars finance manager Amit Patel has been sentenced to at least six and a half years in federal prison after admitting he embezzled $22million from the NFL franchise.

A federal judge made the ruling on Tuesday after Patel previously pleaded guilty in December 2023.

Upon completing his sentence, Patel will be on supervised release for three years and has been ordered to repay over $21million. December’s plea deal had stated a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Patel was employed by the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2018 to 2023, and from late 2019 to February 2023 was the only administrator on the franchise’s virtual credit card program.

During this time, Patel was able to make hundreds of transactions with no legitimate business purpose, hiding the scheme by creating and emailing falsified accounting records to his colleagues.

Patel's embezzlement from the Jaguars was a breach of employee-employeer trust

Reading a statement on behalf of the franchise, Megha Parekh, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at the Jacksonville Jaguars said no other employees supported Patel’s activity. Parekh accused Patel of breaking the trust that existed between him and his colleagues.

"We gave him his dream job. We trusted him. We worked with him. We broke bread with him. We went through a pandemic and the highs and lows of the NFL with him," she stated. "He betrayed us.”

Parekh added that the Jacksonville Jaguars take no joy in his punishment: “Make no mistake, Amit broke our hearts.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars fired Patel in February 2023 after discovering his acts of fraud.

Patel claims he stole the money to pay back losses from a “serious gambling addiction,” dismissing suggestions he used it to live a life of luxury.

A memo filed by his defense attorney noted that Patel was previously diagnosed with a gambling disorder in March 2023, a month after he was fired by the Jaguars, and noted he had previously attended Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The memo even referenced a previous incident where Patel misused a company card whilst employed at Deloitte to cover gambling debts before taking out a $16,000 debt consolidation loan to pay back the money before it was detected.

The prosecution suggested Patel’s claim was “deceptive”. According to their memo, whilst Patel did transfer $21million to gambling sites FanDuel and DraftKings, he transferred over $5million from these two sites to his own financial accounts, and subsequently spent thousands of embezzled dollars on hotels, private jets, and golf memorabilia among other expenditures.

Patel has previously said he “loved working for the Jacksonville Jaguars and regrets his actions which have resulted in him both losing his dream job and damaging the organization.”

However, the prosecution suggested his spending continued well after his fraudulent activities had been discovered by the Jacksonville Jaguars and he had been fired.

The prosecution also criticized Patel’s defense for “victim-blaming” after suggesting stricter sentences due to the sophistication of the scheme should not apply, claiming attempts to conceal the fraud were not complex and the only reason they weren’t immediately detected was because of inadequate supervision from other colleagues on the Jacksonville Jaguars team.

 Lani Rosado-Espinal, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge, released a statement yesterday saying the decision "achieved justice" for the American public. "Patel deceived the Jacksonville Jaguars and used his position of trust to steal from the team, gamble on games and fund a lavish lifestyle.”

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