Update Nov. 24, 2008: After several continuances of the trial of Michael Vick on state dog fighting charges, the case has been resolved. Vick pleaded guilty today to a felony charge of promoting dog fighting in violation of state law. (Virginia has since enacted a tougher dog fighting law.)
Vick appeared in a Virginia state court today to enter his plea of guilty. A second charge for dog fighting was dropped. Vick was given a 3 year suspended sentence.
Observers said the plea could pave the way for Vick’s early release from prison on federal charges and a return to professional football. Federal law prohibits early release of prisoners who have unresolved charges pending. He is currently scheduled to be released on July 20, 2009.
During the hearing Vick apologized to his family and the young fans who had looked up to him as a role model. Let’s hope he gets the stunning cruelty, the depravity of his crimes.
For more on this case including Vick’s plea and sentence on federal charges, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.
Read about the federal and state animal fighting laws passed in the wake of Vick’s conviction. Read about the importance of hotlines in stopping animal fighting and hotline numbers you can call to report suspected animal fighting.
Update June 6, 2008: Michael Vick has been in prison, convicted on federal charges related to dog fighting. More on that in Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.
And now Vick faces state felony charges for dogfighting and promoting dogfighting in Surry County in a trial set to begin June 27, 2008. His cohorts in these crimes, Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace face trials on 6/13/08 and 6/20/08 respectively. It is not clear, though, that these defendants will be tried on those dates. It is not clear the state will even try them at all. The local prosecutor was initially reluctant to bring charges and appears only to have done so in the face of massive publicity.
Update December 10, 2007: Judge Henry E. Hudson has sentenced Michael Vick aka Ookie to 23 months in prison. The sentencing guidelines had indicated a sentence of 12-18 months. A group of rescues and dog owners that filed an amicus brief had called for 57 months, just 3 months shy of the 5 year maximum allowed under the statute. For more on that brief, click here. Eleven Dog Groups Weigh in on Vick’s Sentencing
A copy of the court’s sentencing order is attached to this article.
In court today Vick still referred to his heinous crimes as "poor judgment". When he apologized to the court and his family, Judge Hudson responded, "You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you." For one commentator’s view on Vick’s so-called apologies and lame explanations for his reprehensible behavior, click here. Michael Vick’s Apologists: Not Quite Ready for Pedophiles Needless to say, Vick did not get a 2 point reduction in his sentence for remorse…..
Following his prison term, Vick will be on supervised release for 3 years. Vick has also been ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and undergo drug and alcohol treatment at his own expense. Until he has completed his supervised release, he cannot sell purchase or possess dogs. He cannot incur credit without approval. His financial records must be made available for inspection.
Vick is facing a lawsuit by the Atlanta Falcons for the return of the bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million football contract. Vick has defaulted on a $1.3 million bank loan forÂ a business selling wines. At least two other banks have filed lawsuits attempting to recoup $4.5 million in loans and lines of credit. Vick is attempting to sell his multi-million dollar home in Atlanta. Vick already lost millions of dollars in endorsement contracts including Nike, Rawlings, and AirTran Airways. Other companies like Reebok, Sport’s Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have stopped selling goods with his name and likeness. It’s hard even to find a football trading card for Vick.
For more on the crimes to which Vick pleaded guilty, including bankrolling a dog fighting operation, brutally killing dogs that were not aggressive enough, and gambling on dog fights, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Vick still faces trial on two felony counts related to dog fighting in a Virginia state court. He remains suspended indefinitely from the NFL and Atlanta Falcons.
Update: December 5, 2007: In anticipation of a prison term, Michael Vick surrendered to begin serving the sentence early. He has been held in a state jail in Warsaw, Virginia since November 19, 2007. After sentencing, he will likely be moved to a federal prison. Vick has also agreed to pay more than $928,000 to care for dogs seized from his property.
Many have said this is nothing more than a desperate ploy to convince the judge – and his dwindling fan base – that he is remorseful. For one commentator’s view on Vick’s so-called apologies and lame explanations for his reprehensible behavior, click here. Michael Vick’s Apologists: Not Quite Ready for Pedophiles
The judge has sentenced Vick’s co-conspirators to sentences on the high end of the guidelines which included a range of 12-18 months for Purnell Peace and 18-24 months for Quanis Phillips who has more of a past criminal record. This despite prosecutors’ recommendations for sentences on the low end of the guidelines. Peace received an 18 months sentence, and Quanis Phillips was sent to prison for 21 months.
The judge told Phillips, "You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel."
The sentencing guidelines indicate Vick faces a similar range. But he could receive 5 years in prison. Indeed, this high profile case involving a celebrity caught running a dog fighting operation is likely to be a benchmark for how other dog fighting cases are treated.Â The sentence must reflect the seriousness of the conduct.
An amicus brief filed on behalf of Vick’s original 53 dogs seized from the site of his dog fighting operation, suggested the Court has sufficient bases to enhance the sentence under the guidelines and put Vick in prison for 57 months. In the amicus brief 11 dog groups argue Vick’s sentence can be enhanced because he was the leader and his crimes involved multiple, vulnerable victims. U.S.S.G. §3A1.1(b); U.S.S.G. §3B1.1(a). The groups also argue in their amicus brief the sentence can be increased in view of (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and history and characteristics of the defendant; (2) the need of the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, afford adequate deterrence and protect the public; (3) available sentences; (4) guideline ranges, and (5) the need to avoid sentencing disparities. 18 U.S.C. §3553(a).
For more on the amicus brief including its poignant description of the cruelty of dog fighting, click here. Eleven Dog Groups Weigh in on Vick’s Sentencing
Regardless of the sentence by Judge Henry E. Hudson on December 10, Vick faces more possible jail time as a result of an indictment by aÂ Surrey County, VA grand jury on 2 felony state law counts of dog fighting and promoting dog fighting. Each count carries a maximum 5 year sentence. Go to Animal Law Coalition’s Laws for a look at the Virginia dog fighting law.
For more information about Vick’s involvement in dog fighting, read these Animal Law Coalition reports:
Update August 27, 2007: Judge Henry E. Hudson has accepted MIchael Vick’s guilty plea and set sentencing for December 10, 2007. For more on the terms of the plea agreement, read ALC’s initial report below.
In a press conference following Monday’s court hearing, Vick offered, "What I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding…. I feel like we all make mistakes. And I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions."
Huh?Â Yes, okay, "very immature", a "mistake". How about horribly cruel, inhumane and ghastly? Let’s hope the judge uses these latter adjectives in describing Vick’s dog fighting operation and his brutal treatment of these dogs.
Original Story: Michael Vick aka Ookie and his attorneys have signed a plea agreement with the U.S. attorneys prosecuting him.
Under that agreement, Vick will plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce for illegal activities and dog fighting.
As part of that agreement, Vick admitted that he was part of the dog fighting venture known as Bad Newz Kennels which operated out of his Surry County, Virginia home, the place raided earlier this year by authorities who found pit bulls chained to buried car axles and a great deal of dog fighting equipment.
Indeed, Vick has admitted he largely funded this illegal venture. Vick has also admitted staging, promoting, managing, establishing, and carrying on dog fights in Virginia and elsewhere. He helped purchase and test and roll fighting dogs. Vick has flatly admitted gambling on dog fights. He has flatly admitted killing dogs by hanging, drwoning and slamming them repeatedly on the ground until they were dead.
Vick admitted the dog fighting equipment found on the property was used in this venture. That property included the dogs, many of which had scars and injuries; a breeding stand, break or parting sticks used to pry dogs’ mouths open during a fight, treadmill, slat mills and other items.
Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 1 year to 18 months in prison, but Judge Henry E. Hudson could sentence Ookie to up to 5 years, impose a $250,000 fine (chump change for Ookie), and order 3 years of supervised release. The plea hearing is set to take place Monday, August 27, 2007 at 10:30 a.m. EST. For more including directions to the courthouse, click here. http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/vick/index.html
Vick’s own father, Michael Boddie, has said his son regularly conducted dog fights even in the garage of their family home in Newport News, Virginia. Boddie was left to nurse the poor battered animals. Those that weren’t killed.
For more on this and the cruelty of dog fighting, read ALC’s ealier reports in the Dog Fighting section.