The attorney for the former Jacksonville Jaguars employee who allegedly stole more than $22 million from the team said his client suffers from a “serious gambling addiction” and that he plans to plead guilty to both federal charges he’s currently facing — wire fraud and an illegal monetary transaction.
Alex King said client Amit Patel bet on football and daily fantasy sports and when his losses started to pile up, began using fraudulently obtained money from the company’s virtual credit card (VCC) program to subsidize those losses.
“It started with a little bit and, as these things usually do, spiraled wildly out of control,” King told The Athletic in a telephone interview Thursday.
King said the NFL first contacted Patel in February, when officials came to the Jaguars’ team offices and told him they were investigating his activity. King said Patel used his own name while placing bets “almost exclusively.”
He said he did not know whether Patel bet on Jaguars games specifically. He also said he did not know the NFL’s findings from its probe into his client. The Jaguars fired Patel in February following his meeting with NFL officials.
“A league review uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way,” the NFL said in a statement.
In a news release Thursday, King said that approximately 99 percent of the funds from the Jaguars’ virtual credit card program were gambling losses, almost all occurring on FanDuel and DraftKings.
King said his client takes full responsibility for his actions and in the spring of this year checked himself into an inpatient rehabilitation to deal with his addiction.
“Almost the entirety of the funds Mr. Patel used from the VCC were spent on the gambling websites and efforts to win money back, with the anticipation he would repay the funds with the winnings and make the Jaguars whole,” King said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Mr. Patel’s compulsive gambling only exacerbated the situation, and he continued to misappropriate funds in an effort to have gambling winnings offset his significant losses.”
The losses “were most significant in the final months leading up to the NFL’s investigation,” King said.
King disputed that Patel used the VCC funds to live an extravagant lifestyle. He said that he instead used those funds in a “horribly misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses that utilized the Jaguars’ VCC program.”
Patel is listed in the Jaguars’ media guides from 2018 to 2022. His titles during those years were coordinator, financial planning and analysis, and then manager, financial planning and analysis.
Before his exit, Patel oversaw the company’s monthly financial statements and department budgets and served as the club’s administrator of its VCC program, which allowed certain authorized employees to “request VCC’s for business-related purchases or expenses,” according to the filing.
His authority over the VCC program enabled Patel to, beginning in September 2019, allegedly make fraudulent transactions. Court documents, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., earlier this week, state that he hid those transactions by identifying “reoccurring VCC transactions, such as catering, airfare, and hotel charges, and then duplicated those transactions; he inflated the amounts of legitimate reoccurring transactions; he entered completely fictitious transactions that might sound plausible, but that never actually occurred.”
Patel has “fully cooperated” and “will continue to cooperate” with the Jaguars, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in their investigation, King said in the news release.
King said he does expect his client to serve jail time, though that will not be determined until his sentencing agreement, which will follow the pre-sentence investigation report prepared by the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office.
(Photo: Perry Knotts / Getty Images)