One benefit of being a high-profile player in the National Football League is the people you come in contact with. From movie stars to the financial world elite, NFL players are thrust into the spotlight at an early age. The important thing is to recognize who the real friends are, and who simply is after a piece of your wealth.
As a young member of the Philadelphia Eagles, linebacker Mychal Kendricks met a man named Damilare Sonoiki. The two began discussing the opportunity to capitalize on knowledge Sonoiki had while working for a major investment bank. Over the next two years, the two worked the system and capitalized in a big way: Kendricks’ all-too-clever investments netted the former NFL linebacker a whopping $1.2 million.
On Thursday afternoon, Kendricks stood in front of U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter and pleaded guilty to insider trading charges. Kendricks admitted to using tips from Sonoiki to invest in four companies that were about to be absorbed in massive deals that sent their stock prices through the roof.
Kendricks’ guilty plea of the federal charges sends him to sentencing facing up to 25 years in prison.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, when asked why he’s pleading guilty, Kendricks told Judge Pratter:
“Because I know I was wrong. I know that I made the decision to accept information, secret information, and it wasn’t the right thing to do.”
The relationship between Kendricks and Sonoiki began at a party back in 2013.
Damilare Sonoiki, a Harvard graduate, came into the knowledge that made he and Kendricks a huge amount of money during his time working as a Goldman Sachs analyst. For his role in the two-year scheme, Sonoiki received $10,000 kickbacks, free NFL tickets to Eagles games, was invited to nightclub appearances and even the set of pop star Teyana Taylor’s music video shoot.
Sonoiki left the financial world in 2015 to become a TV writer, working on shows like ABC’s Black-ish and, most recently, writing for The Simpsons.
Mark T. Wilson, Sonoiki’s lawyer, said that his client will also plead guilty to the federal charges, though a date has not been set.
The 27-year-old Kendricks was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, winning a Super Bowl with the team last season. He signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Browns in the offseason, but was promptly released when the charges became public.
The 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the California Golden Bears collected 459 tackles and 14.0 sacks over his first six NFL seasons as an Eagles linebacker, appearing in 85 games and starting Super Bowl 52.
Kendricks is likely to face far less than the mandated 25-year jail sentence for pleading guilty, but his NFL career is effectively over.
Mychal Kendricks sentencing hearing is set for December 18.