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Former employee sentenced to 6.5 years for stealing $22M from Jaguars to fund gambling habit

NRI PULSE STAFF REPORT

Amit Patel, a former Jacksonville Jaguars employee who pleaded guilty to swindling $22 million from the team’s coffers to fund his gambling addiction and a lavish lifestyle, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. also ordered that Patel, 31, pay the Jaguars $21.1 million in restitution and attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings, reports ESPN.

“I stand before you embarrassed, shamed, and disappointed by my actions,” Patel reportedly said during the hearing. He told the court he’d been sober for almost a year and was seeking help for his gambling addiction.

Patel, who was the manager of financial planning and analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2018 to 2023, used the money to buy expensive watches, gamble online, hire private jets, and host luxury trips for friends.

He was charged with wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction in court documents filed earlier this week by the US District Court in Florida, The New York Post reported, citing The Athletic.

While working with the finance department of the team, Patel misused the team’s virtual credit card programme (VCC) to commit fraud. VCC is intended to be used for employees to fund legitimate business expenses.

According to the court filing, he manually tinkered with the system by using “reoccurring VCC transactions, such as catering, airfare, and hotel charges, and then duplicated those transactions. He inflated the amounts of legitimate reoccurring transactions, and entered completely fictitious transactions that might sound plausible, but that never actually occurred”, the Post reported.

Among other things, Patel allegedly “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; acquire a new Tesla Model 3 sedan, and a Nissan pickup truck”.

But Patel’s attorneys argue that 99% of the money stolen from the Jaguars fueled Patel’s online gambling addiction and asked for one year of prison time or less.

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

“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 statement added.

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1 comment

pemba March 15, 2024 at 7:36 pm

only 6.5 years for $22million, very little

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