Former Jacksonville Jaguars employee charged with stealing $22 million from team

A former Jacksonville Jaguars employee has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly racking up more than $22 million in fraudulent credit card purchases, according to court records and a statement released by the team.

According to charging documents filed by federal prosecutors Tuesday, Amit Patel was the sole administrator of the team's virtual credit card program and used this position to pass off personal purchases as business expenses. He allegedly used the Jaguars' virtual credit card accounts to purchase everything from luxury travel arrangements and hotels to a $95,000 watch.

The Jaguars are identified in court records as only "Business A" but confirmed in a statement that they were impacted by the alleged crimes of Patel, who was fired in February.

"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," the team said in a statement.

"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's attorney, Alex King, said in a news release on Thursday that his client intends to plead guilty to the charges and "is deeply remorseful and apologizes for his conduct." According to King, Patel "suffers from a serious gambling addiction" and approximately 99% of the misappropriated funds from the Jaguars' virtual credit card program were gambling losses.

"Mr. Patel did not use the Jaguars’ VCC to fund his lifestyle, but in a horribly misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses that utilized the Jaguars’ VCC program," King said in the news release.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment Wednesday night.

The Athletic first reported the news earlier Wednesday evening.

According to team media guides, Patel spent at least five full seasons as an employee in the Jaguars' finance department, beginning in 2018. Prosecutors allege that in 2019, he became the "sole administrator" for the organization's virtual credit card program, which gave him the ability to approve new accounts and request changes to available credit. He also was responsible for classifying virtual credit card transactions in business reports.

Between September 2019 and his firing in February 2023, Patel racked up personal charges on team accounts by creating some fictitious transactions and inflating, duplicating or mislabeling others, according to charging documents.

Prosecutors allege that, as part of this scheme, Patel used fraudulent credit card charges to place bets with online gambling websites, purchase a brand new Tesla, secure membership at a country club and even buy a two-bedroom condo in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (According to charging documents, the property is valued at north of $265,000.)

Patel is charged with wire fraud and conducting an illegal monetary transaction with regards to the $95,000 watch, which he purchased online last fall. He agreed to be charged by information rather than indictment, and his first court date has not yet been set.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on social media @Tom_Schad.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amit Patel, former Jaguars employee, charged with wire fraud