Former Jaguars employee who stole $22M from team gets over 6 years in prison

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A erstwhile Jacksonville Jaguars financial head who pled blameworthy to stealing much than $22 cardinal from nan NFL franchise through its virtual in installments paper programme was sentenced to 78 months successful national situation Tuesday.

Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. sentenced Amit Patel, 31, successful U.S. District Court successful Jacksonville. Patel, wearing a charcoal suit and a burgundy tie, showed nary emotion wrong nan packed courthouse arsenic nan reward was handed down.

Prosecutors said Patel has returned $1.89 million, leaving his restitution tab astatine $21,132,454.40 — a fig nan judge acknowledged he will ne'er beryllium capable to salary backmost pursuing a felony conviction. Patel pled blameworthy successful December to 1 count of ligament fraud and 1 count of making an forbidden monetary transaction.

The judge sentenced Patel to 78 months connected each count, to tally concurrently. It was nan lowest number nether sentencing guidelines. He besides sewage 3 years of supervised release.

Patel’s lawyer based on for a lighter condemnation Tuesday, asking for nary much than 60 months. Prosecutors countered and elaborate really Patel utilized “insider information” to spell unnoticed for 40 months (between 2019 and 2023) while making hundreds of fraudulent transactions.

“If he tin bargain $22 cardinal and get probation, he’s going to do it again,” adjunct U.S. lawyer Michael J. Coolican argued. “He’s a smart feline and will find a way. ... If it’s reported connected SportsCenter coming you tin bargain $22 cardinal and get a low-ball sentence, a slap connected nan wrist, you amended watch out.”

Patel had astir 2 twelve friends and family members successful nan courthouse. Four of them said connected his behalf: his older brother, an uncle, a erstwhile precocious schoolhouse coach and his girlfriend.

Patel wiped distant tears arsenic his relative elaborate his younger sibling’s intoxicant maltreatment and gambling addiction, arsenic his uncle told nan tribunal what a situation condemnation would do to Patel’s widowed mother, arsenic his erstwhile coach called him a exemplary student and arsenic his woman talked astir opinionated by him done play intoxicant and gambling addiction meetings and having to return a occupation arsenic an Uber driver.

Patel closed nan proceeding and said he started gambled 14 years ago.

“I guidelines earlier you embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed for my actions,” he said. “It began mini and past snowballed truthful large that my only thought was to bet my measurement retired of it. In nan end, I ever thought that large triumph was correct astir nan area and would hole each my problems.”

Patel said he is nearing 1 twelvemonth of sobriety.

“Part of my betterment process is making amends,” Patel said. “However, that seems intolerable fixed really galore group I’ve fto down.”

Megha Parekh, nan Jaguars’ main ineligible officer, publication a victim-impact connection to nan court.

“Speaking connected behalf of nan Jaguars, do cognize that we want to move connected and forgive, not conscionable Amit, but ourselves for trusting him only to watch him shame us, individually and collectively,” Parekh said. “We are proud of our labor for really they weathered done nan messiness he made. But make nary mistake, Amit collapsed our hearts.”

Patel’s lawyers said he gambled distant “approximately 99%” of nan misappropriated money and said his gambling losses totaled $32 million.

Patel gambled connected salient websites astatine nan Jaguars’ facility, which triggered an NFL investigation. The NFL met pinch Patel successful February and past turned nan lawsuit complete to nan FBI. The Jaguars subsequently suspended and yet fired Patel, who began moving for nan squad successful 2018.

Patel oversaw nan company’s monthly financial statements and section budgets and served arsenic nan club’s administrator of its virtual in installments paper program, which allowed authorized labor to “request VCC’s for business-related purchases aliases expenses.”

Patel utilized his power to make fraudulent transactions, according to nan tribunal filing. He duplicated and inflated transactions for items specified arsenic catering, airfare and edifice charges and revenge clone transactions that seemed legitimate.

The Jaguars insist Patel was a rogue worker who took advantage of a deficiency of oversight aft a co-worker pinch akin authority was moved to different department. No 1 other successful nan finance section has been fired, and nan Jags person since instituted much checks and balances to forestall thing akin from happening again.

Patel went to awesome lengths to hide his actions, moreover paying disconnected immoderate of nan in installments paper indebtedness from his individual account. He utilized nan money to bargain 2 vehicles, a condominium successful adjacent Ponte Vedra Beach, a designer watch and cryptocurrency, according to tribunal documents.

He spent much than $278,000 connected hotels, rental properties and travel. He spent much than $200,000 connected play memorabilia, including $47,113.92 to acquisition a putter utilized by Tiger Woods during nan 1996 U.S. Amateur. He spent much than $77,000 astatine nan Ponte Vedra Beach Inn & Club. He spent $140,412.97 connected eBay and $69,025.26 pinch Ticketmaster.

He besides utilized $275,000 of nan stolen costs to prosecute his attorney, according to tribunal documents.