Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been charged with making $1.2 million through insider trading, Philadelphia-based U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced.
From 2014 to 2015, Kendricks, 27, who currently plays for the Cleveland Browns, allegedly collaborated with former Goldman Sachs junior analyst and writer for the ABC sitcom “Black-ish” Damilare Sonoiki, 27, of Beverly Hills, to get non-public information about several companies’ market activities ahead of time in exchange for a series of kickbacks, such as $10,000 cash, Eagles tickets, and access to the filming of a music video by pop star Teyana Taylor.
“When individuals engage in insider trading—buying and selling securities based on material, non-public information—it undermines faith in our financial markets and harms ordinary investors who do play by the rules,” McSwain told reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning. “As alleged, Mr. Sonoiki and Mr. Kendricks cheated the market, cheated other investors, and placed themselves above the law. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity of the financial markets, which is one of our top priorities.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Kendricks admitted to engaging in insider trading and vowed to accept the consequences of his actions.
“I would like to apologize. Four years ago, I participated in insider trading, and I deeply regret it. I invested money with a former friend of mine who I thought I could trust and who I greatly admire,” Kendricks said. “His background as a Harvard graduate and an employee of Goldman Sachs gave me a false sense of confidence. To this point, I had worked my tail off since I was 5 years old to become a football player. I was drawn in by the allure of being more than just a football player. While I didn’t fully understand all of the details of the illegal trades, I knew it was wrong, and I wholeheartedly regret my actions.”
He continued, “Since the beginning of the investigation, I have fully cooperated with the authorities and will continue to do so. I accept full responsibility for my actions. Although I did not take any of the profits for myself, I am committed to repaying all of the funds gained illegally and accept the consequences of my actions.”
A statement from the Browns indicated that Kendricks will not be playing in the team’s final pre-season game against the Detroit Lions on Thursday.
“We are aware of the situation and in communication with the league office as we gather more information,” the team’s statement said.
Kendricks was charged by criminal information. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which investigated the case along with the FBI, also filed a complaint against Kendricks. The SEC said that it tracked down the illegal transactions through an IP address used by Sonoiki. Federal authorities also allegedly uncovered coded communications between the two men, for instance, a text message in which Kendricks told Sonoiki he wanted to change the number on his jersey from 95 to 80—indicating he wanted to make an $80,000 deposit in his trading account.
Specifically, the information alleged Kendricks purchased call options for four companies—Compuware, Move, Sapient and Oplink—and sold the call option contracts after public merger announcements were made for, in one instance, nearly a 400 percent increase in value.
McSwain said Wednesday that the potential punishment for Kendricks and Sonoiki was currently unclear, but he did say that the more severe penalties could include significant prison time. Court appearances have yet to be scheduled.