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Former Jacksonville Jaguars Employee Gets Prison in $21M Gambling Case

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The former finance manager of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, Amit Patel, has been sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison by US District Judge Henry L. Adams. The ruling comes after he was found guilty of embezzling over $22 million from the franchise to fuel his gambling addiction.

Taking His Team for a Ride

Patel, 31, was sentenced for illegal monetary transactions and wire fraud, as revealed by the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida (USAO-MDFL) in a post on X (formerly Twitter) this past Tuesday. Besides the prison term, Patel must pay $21,132,454 in restitution. He will also serve three years of supervised release upon completing the prison sentence.

Former Accountant Fuels Gambling Addiction with a Million Dollar Fraud

Patel, who is originally from Jacksonville, FL, the home of the Jaguars, pleaded guilty last December to defrauding the Jags while working as the team's Financial Planning and Analysis Manager. Using the team's virtual credit card program, Patel began embezzling from the organization in September 2019, concealing his activities until his termination in February of last year.

Assistant US Attorney Michael Coolican had advocated for a seven-year prison term, highlighting in a sentencing memo Patel's pattern of lavish spending funded by the embezzled funds.

A Pattern of Abuse

During his tenure, Patel meticulously manipulated records to hide hundreds of purchases and financial transactions. For years, he diverted millions of dollars to fuel his gambling habit and luxurious lifestyle.

Patel's attorney attributed the actions primarily to his client's gambling addiction. However, Assistant US Attorney Michael Coolican highlighted extravagant purchases such as a Tesla Model 3, tickets to sporting events and a watch valued at $95,000. These, he asserted, demonstrated Patel's pursuit of a lavish lifestyle.

Expressing remorse during sentencing, Patel admitted feeling "embarrassed and ashamed" by his actions, revealing that his gambling addiction commenced during his high school years over a decade ago. Despite his affection for his role at the NFL franchise, Patel confessed to harboring illusions that significant gambling wins would resolve his financial woes.

In response, the Jaguars' Chief Legal Officer, Megha Parekh, expressed the franchise's disappointment over Patel's betrayal, emphasizing the trust they had placed in him. Parekh lamented the breach of trust, stating, "We gave him his dream job. We trusted him. He was our teammate and he betrayed us."

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