Originally Published: 07 DEC 23 08:13 ET Updated: 07 DEC 23 11:18 ET By Ben Morse, CNN
Editor's note: CNN’s Sara Smart and Jacob Lev contributed to this report.
(CNN) — A former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars has been accused of stealing more than $22 million from the NFL team to fund a lavish lifestyle, according to court documents filed in US District Court this week.
The court filing says Amit Patel used the money to fund online gambling, pay for private travel and accommodation for himself and friends as well as sporting tickets, acquire a new Tesla car, Nissan pickup truck, purchase cryptocurrency and buy a property in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
He is also bought a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch – worth over $95,000 – paying the entire price with “proceeds of his fraud scheme.”
According to the court documents, Patel is accused of wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction, stealing millions via the team’s virtual credit card (VCC) system over a four-year period.
Patel is accused of stealing the money from an organization referred to as “Business A,” but the Jaguars confirmed to CNN Sport that they had employed Patel and were the victim of his alleged crimes.
“We can confirm that in February 2023, the team terminated the employment of the individual named in the filing,” the team said in a statement sent to CNN.
“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.
“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.”
CNN has reached out to Patel’s lawyers for comment.
In the filing, Patel is said to have been the sole administrator for the Jaguars’ VCC system. A VCC system works similarly to a traditional credit card account, but without a physical card.
Between September 2019 and February 2023 – when he was fired by the team – it’s alleged that Patel created an elaborate scheme to siphon money while avoiding detection.
“For example, to hide his fraudulent VCC transactions, the defendant identified legitimate reoccurring VCC transactions, such as catering, airfare, and hotel charges, and then duplicated those transactions,” according to the the court documents.
“He inflated the amounts of legitimate reoccurring VCC transactions; he entered completely fictious transactions that might sound plausible, but that never actually occurred; and he moved legitimate VCC chargers from upcoming months into the month of the integration file that was immediately due to the accounting department.”
Patel waived his right to an indictment and the case will proceed based on the sworn information filed by federal prosecutors.
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