The Cleveland Browns released linebacker Mychal Kendricks on Wednesday after he was hit with federal charges for insider trading.
U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, based in Philadelphia, announced the charges earlier Wednesday. The complaint said Kendricks turned $80,000 into $1.2 million in a span of five months.
“Prior to signing Mychal, we were informed that there was a financial situation that he had been involved with in 2014,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “We were told Mychal 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.
“Recently, we were provided an update on the matter and the circumstances have changed. 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. Due to the ongoing legal nature of this situation, we will have no further comments.”
Kendricks joined the Browns on a one-year, $2.25 million contract, which guaranteed him $500,000, in June after he was released by the Eagles in May.
Cleveland.com reported earlier Wednesday that the Browns knew Kendricks was involved in a federal investigation when they signed him, but they were led to believe by Kendricks’ camp that he was not the target of the probe for committing any crimes.
Kendricks, 27, publicly admitted his part in the alleged scheme after the charges were announced Wednesday, saying he is cooperating with authorities and paying back the approximately $1.2 million he profited.
“Four years ago, I participated in insider trading, and I deeply regret it,” Kendricks said in a statement. “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.”
“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.”
According to McSwain, former investment banker Damilare Sonoiki set up a bank account for Kendricks to access and in return received cash and other kickbacks for passing on insider knowledge.
“Within a year of beginning his employment at the investment bank, he was brazenly committing crimes,” McSwain said, per NBC 10 in Philadelphia. “He is alleged to have passed material non-public info to an acquaintance, Mr. Kendricks.”
According to Philly.com, both Sonoiki and Kendricks are expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks.
Kendricks, who played college ball at Cal, was selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2012 draft. In six seasons with the Eagles, he appeared in 85 games (74 starts) and recorded 459 tackles, 14 sacks, three interceptions and six forced fumbles.
En route to winning a Super Bowl championship with the Eagles last season, Kendricks logged 77 tackles, two sacks and six passes defensed while playing 63.3 percent of defensive snaps.
—Field Level Media