PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) –Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been released from the Cleveland Browns after he allegedly used insider trading tips from an acquaintance to make about $1.2 million in illegal profits on four major trading deals.READ MORE: Philadelphia-Area Clinics Temporarily Close, Pivot After FDA, CDC Recommend Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine
In a press conference Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced Kendricks and ex-investment banker Damilare Sonoiki are accused of insider trading. They allegedly used insider trading tips to make about $1.2 million in illegal profits on four major trading deals.
McSwain says Sonoiki was paid $10,000 in kickbacks as well as perks like tickets to Philadelphia Eagles games and tagging along to a music video shoot or nightclub appearances.
Sonoiki had been working as a junior analyst at an unnamed investment bank in New York, prosecutors said. An IMDB profile lists him as a former writer on the popular TV series “Black-ish” as well as other movies and TV shows.
Kendricks released a statement following the announcement, where he apologized and said he “deeply” regrets his actions. Kendricks said he “didn’t fully understand all of the details of the illegal trades.”
Kendricks said he has been cooperating with authorities since the investigation began.
McSwain declined to say when the investigation started, saying those details would come out in court.
The Browns didn’t know the extent of Kendricks’ involvement in the federal investigation when they signed him to a one-year, $2.25 million contract, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The person said the team was under the impression that Kendricks was not the focus of the probe or had done anything illegal.
In a statement on Wednesday night, the Browns said they released Kendricks.READ MORE: Duante Wright Shooting: Dozens March In Philadelphia In Protest Of Fatal Police Shooting
A message seeking comment from the federal defender representing Sonoiki wasn’t immediately returned.
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 gave 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.
If the men are convicted, they could face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $5.25 million as well as the seizure of any profits made from the insider trading.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league is reviewing the situation.
The 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. Kendricks spent six years with the Eagles, who drafted him in the second round in 2012 after he played at California.
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.MORE NEWS: Gregg Shore, Former Assistant Bucks County DA Demoted For Working For DoorDash On Clock, Resigns
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)