A former Jacksonville Jaguars financial employee is accused of stealing more than $22 million from the team during a four-year span, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court obtained by the Athletic on Thursday (December 6).
Amit Patel was charged with wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction. Patel reportedly used his position as sole overseer of the NFL franchise's VCC program -- a payment method that functions similarly to a traditional credit card account without having a physical card -- to obtain money which he then used to pay for lavish personal purchases and cover up his theft.
The suspect reportedly duplicated legitimate expenses in an electronic ledger, inflated the amounts of the actual transactions and entered fake transactions before obtaining the money to use for his own expenses. The United States Attorney's Office filed the charges in the Jacksonville Division of the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday (December 5). The Jaguars weren't specifically named in the court filing, however, later confirmed that they were the "Business A" referenced in the filing and noted that Patel was fired earlier this year in a statement obtained by ESPN, though the filing nor the team specified when they became aware of the alleged theft committed by Patel.
"We can confirm that in February 2023, the team terminated the employment of the individual named in the filing," the statement reads. "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."
Patel is reported to have stolen a total of $22,221,454.40 and used part of the money to purchase a condominium in Ponte Verda Beach, a Tesla Model 3 sedan, cryptocurrency, private jets and luxury wrist watches, as well as stays at luxury hotels and a country club membership. Patel began his role as the sole administrator of the Jaguars' VCC program in October 2019, according to the filing.