Former Eagle Mychal Kendricks Cut After Insider-trading Indictment

Former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, named in an insider-trading indictment Wednesday morning, has lost his job with the Cleveland Browns.

Kendricks, who has issued a statement acknowledging wrongdoing, was initially seen by the Browns as the victim of "a financial situation that he had been involved with in 2014," Browns General Manager John Dorsey said Wednesday night.

"We are now dealing with a different set of facts and the additional information we've gathered has led us to the decision to release Mychal from our team," Dorsey said.

A federal indictment alleges Kendricks paid for insider trading tips with coveted kickbacks that included free tickets to games. 

Kendricks almost immediately issued a statement, saying, "I wholeheartedly regret my actions." 

Kendricks, who played with the Eagles from 2012 through the team' s Super Bowl win in 2018, is accused of taking illegal tips from Damilare Sonoiki, a California investment banker. 

Sonoiki, currently a writer for the TV show "Black-ish" who is also charged in the indictment, met Kendricks at a party in 2013 and the two stayed in touch, exchanging investment and business ideas by phone, the indictment stated. 

Between July and November 2014, Sonoiki allegedly tipped Kendricks about at least four corporate acquisitions in advance of the deals being announced publicly.

The securities Kendricks allegedly purchased based on Sonoiki's tips earned him about $1.2 million in illegal profits, according to federal authorities. 

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a news conference Wednesday that if convicted, both Kendricks and Sonoiki could face "substantial prison time."

Kendricks and Sonoiki allegedly took steps to cover up their activity, minimizing phone calls, texting in code, and using "other methods of communication that they apparently believed would not be uncovered, such as FaceTime," the indictment stated. 

In exchange for the lucrative tips, Kendricks gave Sonoiki Eagles tickets, paid for a luxury car service to drive him 180 miles to a nightclub in York, Pa., and invited him to a taping of pop star Teyana Taylor's music video, in which Kendricks had a cameo, according to the indictment.

The indictment includes text exchanges between the men as Sonoiki's bank was in discussions with Compuware about taking the company private.

Sonoiki: hit my line soon as you can ... Got something for us

Kendricks: Yo i might head out there tonight

Sonoiki: cool even better if we talk in person. got u

Within hours of that text conversation, Kendricks traveled to New York City to meet Sonoiki outside of his investment bank's Manhattan headquarters, the indictment stated. 

The following week, Kendricks allegedly funded a recently opened brokerage account titled the Kendricks Account with $80,000 from a managed account he held at another brokerage firm. 

"In an apparent attempt to avoid questions from his financial advisor who managed the account, Kendricks moved the money from his managed account to a checking account and only then to the Kendricks Account," the indictment stated. 

The partners indirectly discussed the deposit in more texts, the indictment stated. 

Kendricks: Yo so the 80 is there 

Sonoiki: nah you should keep number 95 (a reference to the number Kendricks wore on his jersey)

Kendricks: They said I couldn't get the 80 anyways only WR could get that number

A later string of texts in late August 2014 hinted at Kendricks' money concerns and anxiety over the Compuware deal not yet going through, according to the indictment.

Kendricks: I'm getting scared Bruh

Sonoiki: bro, don't get scared

Sonoiki: ear hustling hard, let's link up or hop on the phone

Kendricks: I'm getting kind if-y Bruh...Bruh idk

Sonoiki: I hear u. it's still happening, just taking longer that it was supposed to

Kendricks: I'm losing Bruh

Sonoiki: chill, not losing

Kendricks: I'm at a messed up place as far as my money is concerned I have enough to live and support myself but not enough money to avoid taxes ... I don't have enough money to buy a business and get the tax breaks I need 

Sonoiki: Haha...I should have some good news for you really soon.

Sonoiki: ...don't worry. really soon...that's all I can say...

Kendricks: my hopes all up. 

The next night, Sept. 1, 2014, the Wall Street Journal published a story reporting that Compuware was in advanced talks with a private-equity buyer about a going-private transaction. 

This past June, Kendricks, 27, signed a one-year contract worth up to $3.5 million with the Browns.

According to Dorsey, the Ohio team signed Kendricks after being told he "had fully cooperated with investigators as a victim."

"From what was communicated at that time and based on the numerous questions we asked and further due diligence on our part, including checking with the league office, there was no information discovered that conveyed otherwise," Dorsey said.
Chris Long ripped the NFL's anthem policy while Nigel Bradham reacts to Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks. Martin Frank, The News Journal
In a statement earlier Wednesday, the Browns said Kendricks would not accompany the team to a pre-season game against the Detroit Lions.

"We are aware of the situation and in communication with the league office as we gather more information," Dorsey said.

On Wednesday night, the GM said the team would have no further comment "due to the ongoing legal nature of this situation."

In his statement, Kendricks appears to acknowledge his actions but says "I didn't fully understand all of the details of illegal trades." 

Here is his full statement: 

“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 admired. 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. 

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. 

I sincerely apologize to my coaches, the owners, and my teammates on the Eagles and the Browns, the NFL, and the magnificent fans to whom I owe my career. I also apologize to my family, who I have failed in this. You all deserve better, and I will work my hardest to re-earn your trust and respect, serve as an advocate to educate others, and show you that I will never be involved in anything like this again. Thank you.”