A former Jacksonville Jaguars executive stole $22 million from the NFL team and used the money to fund a luxury lifestyle that included a Tesla, private jet travel and a $95,000 Patek Philippe Nautilus watch, according to US prosecutors.
The executive, Amit Patel, processed fraudulent credit card transactions from September 2019 until he was fired in February, according to charges filed Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida. Patel is charged with wire fraud and with engaging in an illegal financial transaction.
Patel, the team’s former manager of financial planning and analysis, agreed to waive his right to be charged in a felony indictment, according to a court document, a move that often signals an agreement to plead guilty. The case was first reported in The Athletic.
The criminal charges don’t mention the Jaguars, referring to Patel’s former employer only as “Business A.” But the team confirmed that it was the victim of Patel’s alleged fraud.
Patel took advantage of his job to “covertly and intentionally commit significant fraudulent financial activity at the team’s expense for personal benefit,” the Jaguars said in a statement.
Alex King, Patel’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.
The Jaguars said the team has cooperated with investigators and hired accountants and law firms to review the transactions. No other employees were aware of the fraud and Patel had no access to confidential football strategy or other information.
The Jaguars, with eight wins and four losses, currently lead the AFC South division of the National Football League.
Virtual Credit Card
Prosecutors claim Patel oversaw the team’s virtual credit card program, which allowed some employees to charge expenses without a physical credit card. Each month it was Patel’s job to create a file accounting for the charges from the past month.
Patel created files with fraudulent entries, inventing phony transactions, moving up legitimate charges from future months and inflating some charges, including for catering, airfare and hotels, according to the government.
Prosecutors claim Patel spent the millions he stole from the team on internet gambling, a condominium near Florida’s Ponte Vedra Beach and for private jet travel and luxury accommodation for himself and friends.
He bought a new Tesla Model 3 sedan and a Nissan pickup truck, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, sports memorabilia, a country club membership, tickets to sporting events and high-end watches, including the Patek Philippe.
Patel also allegedly used stolen money to hire a personal trainer and a criminal defense lawyer.