It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of Philadelphia Eagles tickets.
Or, uh, something. On Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office announced charges against Mychal Kendricks, the former Eagles linebacker who now plays for the Browns, and Damilare Sonoiki, a former Goldman Sachs analyst and later a writer on ABC’s Black-ish. Kendricks and Sonoiki are accused of engaging in insider trading in 2014. Sonoiki, the government alleges, funneled information about upcoming mergers and acquisitions to Kendricks, who invested accordingly. Federal prosecutors said that Kendricks made $1.2 million via this arrangement, for which he gave Sonoiki $10,000 in cash and perks, including—you guessed it—Eagles tickets.
The federal government helpfully provided this graphic to explain the purported con:
Now: This is a serious thing, if an obscure one; the victims of insider trading, when they can be identified at all, tend to be a vague constellation of corporations and investors, or else simply “the broader economy.” Sonoiki and Kendricks could face a maximum possible sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment, a three-year period of supervised release, a $5,250,000 fine, and a $200 special assessment if convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Kendricks released a statement after the charges were announced confirming his role and stating that he is cooperating with the authorities. That’s the serious stuff. Let us now revel in the byzantine weirdness of what has unfolded.
1. Kendricks provided Sonoiki with free tickets to Eagles games, according to the indictment. He also paid for “a luxury car service to drive Sonoiki approximately 180 miles to attend a event in York, [Pennsylvania,] and … [invited] Sonoiki to the set of pop star Teyana Taylor’s music video, in which Kendricks made a cameo appearance.” That music video was for 2014’s “Maybe,” which features a freeze frame of Kendricks like so:
2. THE. CODE. WAS. CHEESESTEAKS!
“idk when next imma be able to see you,” Sonoiki is alleged to have texted Kendricks “... so try to have the bread if you can ... the bread in nyc just isn’t the same and I really like my cheesesteaks with the stuff you all have in Philly.” Here, if, alas, perhaps nowhere else on earth, “cheesesteaks” could have meant either money or Eagles tickets. Or both! One of the games Sonoiki attended gratis, prosecutors said, a clash between the Eagles and Redskins, included a fourth-quarter player brawl.
3. They used FaceTime to “avoid detection by law enforcement.” It did not work. On another occasion, when the two were swapping illicit stock information while using the code words “80” and “95,” Kendricks attempted to cover their tracks by adding, “They said I couldn’t get the 80 anyways only WR could get that number.” This also did not work.
4. Points for boldness, anyway: They once met to swap trading deets “outside [Goldman Sachs’s] downtown Manhattan headquarters,” according to the indictment. Subtlety was perhaps no one’s strong suit.
5. There is a point when Kendricks texted Sonoiki, “I’m getting scared Bruh.” Classic novice criminal, suddenly finding himself in too deep and wanting out—except, wait, this was actually about the insider trading not working fast enough? My dude.
The whole thing reads like a Coen brothers movie, in which criminals are as nefarious as they are bumbling. Hopefully the cheesesteaks were good while they lasted.