Former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks charged with insider trading

- PHILADELPHIA (AP/WTXF) -- Federal prosecutors say former Philadelphia Eagle linebacker Mychal Kendricks used insider trading tips from an acquaintance to make about $1.2 million in illegal profits on four major trading deals.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain held a press conference to announce the criminal charges Wednesday.

Prosecutors also charged TV writer Damilare Sonoiki with helping to facilitate Kendricks' stock trades.

McSwain says Sonoiki was paid $10,000 in kickbacks in the scheme from 2014-2015, as well as perks like tickets to Eagles games and tagging along to a music video shoot or nightclub appearances.

Sonoiki, 27, had been working as a junior analyst at an unnamed investment bank in New York, prosecutors said. An IMDB profile lists him as a writer on the popular TV series "Black-ish" as well as other movies and TV shows. 

In a statement released by his lawyer Wednesday, Kendricks said he was sorry and takes full responsibility for his actions.

"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 said in the statement. He also claimed he didn't take any of the profits for himself but didn't elaborate on where the money went. 

"I am committed to repaying all of the funds gained illegally and accept the consequences of my actions," he said.

Kendricks said he has been cooperating with authorities since the investigation began.

McSwain, along with representatives from the FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission — which filed a separate complaint — said Kendricks and Sonoiki used coded language in messages to try to hide their actions. McSwain said Sonoiki, who had limited trading powers at the time, would give non-public information to Kendricks about acquisitions and other deals that would affect the price of securities for at least four different companies.

Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Enforcement, said in one message when Sonoiki was asking for payment, he told Kendricks that he liked Philadelphia bread used in cheesesteaks more than the bread in New York and asked that Kendricks bring him some. 

They also had a conversation pretending to be talking about changing the number on Kendricks' jersey to 80, meant to signify the amount of money that should be deposited into a new trading account, she said.

Kendricks spent six years with the Eagles before being cut by the team during the offseason. The Cleveland Browns signed Kendricks as a free agent in June, bringing on the Super Bowl winner to upgrade their linebacker corps following an 0-16 season.

The Cleveland Browns also released a statement following the charges.

"We are aware of the situation and in communication with the league office as we gather more information," the statement read. "Mychal will not make the trip to Detroit. We wil comment further at the appropriate time."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league is reviewing the situation.

Kendricks had already been in the news Wednesday morning following his comments about his former team on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks.’ Tuesday night’s episode focused on the Browns' preparation for a preseason game against the Eagles.

The episode gave an inside look at the Browns' defensive meeting room where Kendricks spoke about a number of former teammates, including quarterback Nick Foles and tight end Zach Ertz. He was especially critical of Ertz.

“Eighty-six, I think, is the best receiver on the team. Notice I said 'receiver.' When it comes to blocking, you [expletive] hit his [expletive] over and over and over, he doesn’t want any smoke,” Kendricks said of Ertz.

In a preview for this week’s episode, Kendricks could also be seen telling his team that he felt the Browns had more talent than last year’s Super Bowl champions.

The 5-foot-11, 240-pounder recorded a team-high eight tackles in last season's NFC Championship against Minnesota and had four in Philadelphia's Super Bowl win.

If convicted, Kendricks and Sonoiki could face up to 25 years in prison, a three-year period of supervised release and fine of up to $5.25 million. Forfeiture of all profits made from the alleged trading activity also may be ordered.

VIDEO: Insider trading charges against former Eagle Mychal Kendricks

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