It’s been three years since former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks told federal investigators he conspired with friends to carry out an insider trading scheme. He was cut by multiple teams, repeatedly and publicly reliving his misdeeds.
The worst part, he said during his long-awaited sentencing hearing Thursday, was not knowing what this week would bring.
“I’ve been a role model, and it’s tough when a little kid comes up to you and asks if you’re going to jail,” Kendricks said, standing at a lectern, his voice shaking. “For the past years, I haven’t been able to answer that.”
Now he can. Kendricks was sentenced to one day in federal custody — he’d be out later Thursday — and three years of supervised release. He must pay a $100,000 fine and serve 300 hours of community service in the Philadelphia region.
In sentencing him below federal guidelines that called for three years in prison, U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter said the length of time he has waited for this day “must be a very significant punishment itself.”
Prosecutors and Kendricks’ defense attorney asked Pratter for a lower sentence than three years in prison, saying Kendricks cooperated with investigators since the FBI first approached him in 2017. He provided access to his electronic devices and information that led to criminal charges against his childhood friend Mark Wayne “Christian” Ramsey.
After apologizing to dozens of friends and family gathered in court, Kendricks, 30, who was part of the Eagles’ storybook 2018 season that ended with an improbable Super Bowl win, testified about his crimes and those he said he worked with to perpetrate them.
Kendricks said that between 2013 and 2015, he gave cash and NFL tickets to financial-analyst-turned-TV-scriptwriter Damilare Sonoiki in exchange for confidential, market-shifting information. Ramsey, he said, lived in Philadelphia with him and worked as his personal assistant, collaborating with Sonoiki to make the illegal trades using an account in Kendricks’ name.
The trio, prosecutors say, netted some $1.2 million. Kendricks forfeited that amount in late 2018.
Sonoiki, a Harvard-educated analyst who first met Kendricks at a party in 2013, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
Kendricks is expected to be a key government witness in Ramsey’s criminal trial, which has been repeatedly pushed back as the pandemic scrambled court proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ignall argued in support of a sentence for Kendricks below the federal guidelines, saying the case had a “somewhat unusual fact pattern” because even without a sentencing deal, Kendricks provided investigators with information that led to charges against an alleged coconspirator.
Added Kendricks’ defense attorney Michael Schwartz: “Mr. Kendricks has told everyone he knows … that he did wrong. That there’s no excuses. He’s been doing it for the last three years.”
In addition to describing his cooperation with the government, Kendricks — who had no previous criminal history — told the judge he’s lost his reputation and the trust of his family and friends, but has worked to better himself through therapy, self-reflection, and community service.
“I will continue to be a vocal example who will speak about being honest, being true, recognizing your wrongdoings and learning from those, such as I have,” he said. “My lawyer told me not to say ‘never.’ But I can truly say that I never want to relive this again.”
Through six seasons in Philadelphia, Kendricks made more than $20 million before being released four months after the Super Bowl. He then briefly signed with the Browns, but was cut after charges were filed.
His agent, Doug Hendrickson, told ESPN on Thursday that Kendricks is an unrestricted free agent and that interested teams had been waiting for the sentencing to take place before proceeding.
Dozens of family, friends, and associates wrote letters to the judge in support of a lenient sentence, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Goodell wrote that he met with Kendricks in 2018 after he was arrested and indefinitely suspended from play. After that meeting, Kendricks’ suspension was softened. Goodell wrote that Kendricks has since “made himself a public example of the consequences of engaging in securities fraud” and “is committed to rebuilding both his reputation and his life.”
And Carroll, saying Kendricks had demonstrated “impeccable trust and accountability,” wrote that his former player “is a good man that has served the burden of this case to become a better man and a better citizen.”