(CNN) — The former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars who has been accused of stealing more than $22 million from the NFL team to fund a lavish lifestyle suffers from a “serious gambling addiction,” according to his lawyer.
According to court documents filed in US District Court this week, Amit 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.
In a statement sent to CNN on Thursday, Patel’s attorney Alex King said that his client is “deeply remorseful and apologizes for his conduct” and that “approximately 99% of the funds misappropriated from the Jaguars’ VCC were gambling losses.”
Patel primarily used the money to bet on football gambling websites, according to King, who added that “the losses were most significant in the final months leading up to the NFL’s investigation.”
King said that shortly after his firing from the Jaguars in early 2023, Patel checked into a rehabilitation center to address his gambling addiction.
“Mr. Patel’s serious gambling addiction does not excuse his actions, which he takes full responsibility for,” King said.
“Although incomprehensible to most, a gambling addition is similar to substance abuse, such that the disorder can stimulate the brain’s dopamine response much like drugs or alcohol do.
“It provides an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on one’s life, and creates a willingness to risk more and more, despite the impact it has.
“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,” added King.
“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 court filing says 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 alleged to have bought a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch – worth over $95,000 – paying the entire price with “proceeds of his fraud scheme.”
However, King refutes those allegations, saying Patel’s lifestyle was paid for legitimately.
“(Patel’s) modest residence was paid for mostly with family money and other money earned,” said King.
“Additionally, Mr. Patel purchased a Tesla Model 3 with his earned funds and traded that in to upgrade his vehicle to a similar Model 3. 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 utilized the Jaguars’ VCC program.”
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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