Ex-Jaguars staffer sentenced to prison for stealing $22 million from the team | soccer4u
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Ex-Jaguars staffer sentenced to prison for stealing $22 million from the team

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A former Jacksonville Jaguars employee who is accused of stealing more than $22 million from the team over a number of years was given a 78-month jail sentence on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Amit Patel entered a guilty plea to wire fraud and making an unauthorized financial transaction in December. He mentioned his addiction to gambling during a U.S. District Court hearing on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida. He expressed his regret, humiliation, and disappointment for his acts.

Patel testified in court, “It started small and then snowballed so big that my only thought was to gamble my way out of it” (via the Associated Press). “In the end, I always believed that my problems would all be solved by that big win that was just around the corner.”

A Florida-based section of the U.S. attorney’s office had requested an 84-month prison sentence in a sentencing brief filed with the court last week. They claimed that although Patel did use a large portion of his stolen money for gambling websites, he also spent several million dollars on “a life of luxury.

” The prosecution referenced hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on private plane charters, opulent hotel reservations, and purchases like a $95,000 Patek Philippe wristwatch. It was also reported that Patel paid over $47,000 for a putter that Tiger Woods used to win the U.S. Amateur championship in 1996.

According to the prosecution, Patel was able to carry out an embezzlement plan from September 2019 until his firing in February 2023 by using his role as administrator for the Jaguars’ virtual credit card program.

It was discovered that he had fabricated transactions and purchases, as well as given other Jaguars staff members forged financial records.

He got his ideal job from us. During Tuesday’s sentence hearing, Megha Parekh, the senior vice president and chief legal officer of the Jaguars, stated, “We trusted him” (via ESPN). We collaborated with him.

Together, we shared a piece of bread. Alongside him, I experienced the highs and lows of the NFL and a pandemic. He turned on us. We do not rejoice at his punishment.

In a December news release  Patel’s attorneys stated that their client was mostly interested in daily fantasy sports gambling, with “approximately 99% of the funds misappropriated from the Jaguars” ending up as losses at FanDuel and DraftKings. A “modest residence” and a Tesla Model 3 were among the purchases made with personal money, they continued, adding that money taken from the Jaguars was used in a “horribly misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses.”

According to the attorneys at the time, Patel “checked himself into extensive, inpatient rehabilitation to address his addiction” and “regrets his actions which have resulted in him both losing his dream job and damaging the [Jaguars] organization” since last year.

Patel was ordered to pay the Jaguars full restitution as part of his sentencing, but the judge overseeing the hearings admitted (per the AP) that the team can’t realistically expect to collect back the majority of what he embezzled.

The Jaguars reportedly asked FanDuel in February to reimburse them for a large portion of the $20 million Patel allegedly lost on the website, but the firm rejected their request, according to ESPN. It is said that in January 2023, FanDuel informed the NFL of Patel’s gambling operations.

The AP claims that after Patel utilized gambling websites while at the Jaguars’ facilities, the league started looking into the matter and later gave the case to the FBI.

In a statement released on Tuesday, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Lani Rosado-Espinal said,

“Today, the IRS intercepted Patel’s playbook and achieved justice for the American public.” “Patel used his position of trust to deceive the Jacksonville Jaguars, steal from the team, gamble on games, and finance a lavish lifestyle.”

 

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