RICHMOND, VA—Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick placed nearly $1 million in an escrow fund to pay for the care of 54 pit bulls seized earlier this year from his Bad Newz Kennels property in Surry County. The dogs had been part of his dog fighting operation.
Vick, 27, pleaded guilty in August to felony dog fighting conspiracy charges and voluntary surrendered to U.S. Marshals on Nov. 19 to begin serving his prison term. He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced on Dec. 10 but it’s likely it will receive 18 months. Vick is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, a facility which houses about 450 inmates.
Vick placed $928,073 into the escrow fund which will be “used to pay whatever restitution money is ultimately ordered in this case”. Federal prosecutors had ordered Vick to pay for the dogs’ care and as part of his guilty plea, he agreed to pay “restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of the all dogs” involved in the case.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced two of Vicks’ co-defendants for their roles in the dog fighting operation. Although federal prosecutors had asked that Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace be sentenced on the low end of the sentencing guidelines for their cooperation in the case and subsequent guilty pleas, dog owner Hudson sentenced Phillips to 21 months and Peace to 18. They could have been each sentenced up to five years in prison.
The state trial in the case is scheduled to begin on April 2 in Surry County.
Vick has admitted that he financed the dog fighting operation and had participated in the killing of at least six pit bulls which had not performed well in “testing sessions” but said that he had never gambled on the dog fights.
According to a summary of facts recited in the plea agreement, “most of the Bad Newz Kennels operation and gambling monies were provided by Vick” and that when the dogs of the kennel won, the winnings were split between Vick’s co-defendants and partners in the operation, Tony Taylor, Peace and Phillips.
Taylor is also scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10.
The court papers said that Vick didn’t receive any of the purse money won by the kennel. He did admit to joining with others in killing six to eight dogs that didn’t perform to their standards and executed them by drowning or hanging the dogs.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend the minimum sentence which is 18 months in prison but ultimately, the final decision in sentencing rests with the judge. Vick’s surrender was approved by the judge.
Vick has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigations into the dog fighting operation including testifying before grand juries.
He has been indefinitely suspended by the NFL.
The Falcons are attempting to recover $22 million of Vick’s signing bonus from the 10-year, $130 million contract he signed with the team in 2004. At the earliest, Vick would not be eligible to play again until 2009.
In the July 17 indictment, it was alleged that Vick bred, raised and trained dogs at his home expressly for dog fighting. The indictment also included a forfeiture allegation seeking recovery of any property constituting, or derived from, proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of these offenses.
According to the indictment, Vick and his co-defendants were involved in an ongoing animal fighting venture based out of a property owned by Vick located in Smithfield, Va., from early 2001 through on or about April 25. Vick had allegedly attended the dog fights in Virginia and several other states. 12-1-07
I just saw this in the news. It looks like Michael Vick's challenges as a result of this part of his life are just beginning.
dog collars, dog toys, dog beds