The Jacksonville Jaguars finally appear to be ascending as a respected NFL organization after years of losing, dysfunction and turmoil.
But according to a report on Wednesday night from The Athletic, a major scandal has been uncovered within the franchise.
The report states a former Jacksonville Jaguars employee is accused of stealing more than $22 million from the franchise from 2019 to 2023 by exploiting the organization’s virtual credit card program, and he used that money to buy, among other items, two vehicles, a condominium and a designer watch worth over $95,000. Some of that money was also allegedly used to purchase cryptocurrency and place bets with online gambling sites.
Amit Patel, who worked for the Jaguars for five years starting in 2018, is named in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla. earlier this week. The Jaguars were not named in the federal filing – the organization was referred to as “Business A” – but the team confirmed it was the victim of Patel’s alleged crimes.
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 obtained by The Athletic.
“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.”
Jacksonville Jaguars Employee Bought Luxury Cars, Watches & Catered Private Jets
The Athletic story noted Patel is listed in the Jaguars’ media guides from 2018-2022. His titles during those years were coordinator, financial planning and analysis, and then manager, financial planning and analysis. The court filing states that he was fired in February 2023.
Before his exit, Patel oversaw the company’s monthly financial statements and department budgets and served as the club’s administrator of its virtual credit card (VCC) program, which allowed certain authorized employees to “request VCC’s for business-related purchases or expenses,” according to the filing.
According to the report, Patel used the Jacksonville Jaguars as his own personal bank.
His authority over the VCC program enabled Patel to, beginning in September 2019, allegedly make fraudulent transactions. The court filing states that he hid those transactions by identifying “reoccurring VCC transactions, such as catering, airfare, and hotel charges, and then duplicated those transactions; he inflated the amounts of legitimate reoccurring transactions; he entered completely fictitious transactions that might sound plausible, but that never actually occurred.”
The court filing states that Patel “used the proceeds of this scheme, in whole or part, to place bets with online gambling websites; to purchase a condominium in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; to pay for personal travel for himself and friends (including chartering private jets and booking luxury hotels and private rental residences); to acquire a new Tesla Model 3 sedan and Nissan pickup truck; to lodge a retainer with a criminal defense law firm; and to purchase cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens, electronics, sports memorabilia, a country club membership, spa treatments, concerts and sporting event tickets, home furnishings and luxury wrist watches.”
NFL teams make a ton of money, but for a single employee to steal more than $22 million is no small theft. This dude clearly found a way to leverage his position to live a life of luxury — and just when the Jacksonville Jaguars get good news about their franchise QB — the organization now has a major scandal on it’s hands.
This will be an interesting story to follow for sure.