Indian-origin former football team employee in US accused of stealing over USD 22 million to buy condo, cars and cryptocurrency

Advertisement

An Indian-origin former financial manager of an American football team has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly racking up more than USD 22 million from the franchise in fraudulent credit card purchases to fund a lavish lifestyle. Amit Patel, who worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years starting in 2018, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of illegal monetary transaction in documents filed in US District Court in Jacksonville. According to charging documents filed by federal prosecutors Tuesday, Patel was the sole administrator of the team’s virtual credit card (VCC) programme and used this position to pass off personal purchases as business expenses.

Patel is accused of using the money to buy a Tesla Model 3 sedan, a Nissan pickup truck, a condominium in Ponte Vedra Beach, a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch for USD 95,000, and cryptocurrency, CBS News reported. 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, it said. 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.

Advertisement

Patel’s attorney, Alex King, said that his client intends to plead guilty to the charges and “is deeply remorseful and apologises for his conduct”, USA Today newspaper reported. According to King, Patel “suffers from a serious gambling addiction” and approximately 99 per cent of the misappropriated funds from the Jaguars’ virtual credit card programme 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 utilised the Jaguars’ VCC programme,” King said.