Former Black-ish writer Damilare Sonoiki and Cleveland Browns player Mychal Kendricks were charged Wednesday with securities fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia announced in a press release.
Sonoiki, a former Wall Street investment analyst, is accused of passing along inside information to Kendricks between July 2014 and March 2015, while the NFL star played for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Securities Fraud Charges Announced Today Against Former Junior Analyst for Major Investment Bank and Current NFL Player. https://t.co/yEwfaC86bH
— U.S. Attorney EDPA (@USAO_EDPA) August 29, 2018
Prosecutors allege Kendricks traded NFL tickets and $10,000 cash in exchange for confidential financial details on four companies, leading to $1.2 million in illegal financial gains.
“When individuals engage in insider trading – buying and selling securities based on material, non-public information – it undermines faith in our financial markets,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a statement. “Mr. Sonoiki and Mr. Kendricks cheated the market, cheated other investors, and placed themselves above the law.”
After leaving the banking industry, Harvard graduate Sonoiki became an actor, producer and writer, according to his IMDB page. He worked as a staff writer at Black-ish from 2015-2016.
In a 2016 interview with Black Media Minute, Sonoiki said he grew up in Nigeria and always wanted to be a writer but entered the financial industry to please his parents. The Black-ish position was his first Hollywood writing job.
Sonoiki currently lives in Beverly Hills, according to prosecutors. It’s unclear if he still works in the entertainment industry.
Kendricks helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl championship earlier this year. He then signed with the Browns, which cut him Wednesday after the charges were announced.
“The Cleveland Browns have terminated the contract of LB Mychal Kendricks,” the team said in a statement on its website.
Kendricks, 27, and Sonoiki, 27, each face up to 25 years in prison, a $5,250,000 fine and a $200 special assessment, prosecutors said.
Kendricks apologized in a statement from his legal team to the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying he invested money with a former friend he thought he could trust.
“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,” Kendricks said.
Sonoiki is represented by Mark Wilson of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia, according to the Inquirer. Wilson declined comment.