Michael Vick enters a plea agreement

After his co-defendants copped plea deals fingering Vick and agreeing to testify against him, Falcons runningback quarterback Michael Vick took the only option he really had left.

Today, he entered his plea agreement:

Michael Vick filed his plea agreement in federal court Friday admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring and helping kill pit bulls. He denied ever betting on the fights, only bankrolling them.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is scheduled to formally enter his plea Monday in U.S. District Court. He signed the plea agreement Thursday.
“Most of the Bad Newz Kennels operation and gambling monies were provided by Vick,” a summary of facts in the case said, echoing language in plea agreements by three co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty.

The statement said that when the kennel’s dogs won, the gambling proceeds were generally shared by Vick’s three co-defendants — Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips.

“Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights. Vick did not receive any of the proceeds of the purses that were won by Bad Newz Kennels,” the summary said.

According to the statement, Vick also was involved with the others in killing six to eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions last April. The dogs were executed by drowning or hanging.

“Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts” of Vick and two of the co-defendants, Phillips and Peace, the statement said.

In the plea agreement, the government committed to recommending a sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guideline range of a year to 18 months. However, the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, and the judge is not bound by any recommendation or by the sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, who will accept Vick’s plea, has a reputation for imposing stiff sentences, according to lawyers who have appeared in his court. Vick will not be sentenced for several months.

A federal indictment issued in July charged Vick, Peace, Phillips and Taylor with an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. Vick initially denied any involvement, and all four men pleaded innocent.

Taylor was the first to change his plea to guilty, saying Vick financed the dogfighting ring’s gambling and operations. Peace and Phillips soon followed, disclosing that Vick joined them in killing dogs that did not perform well in test fights.

The sickening details outlined in the indictment and other court papers prompted a public backlash against Vick, who had been one of the NFL’s most popular players.

Vick was barred from the Falcons training camp, but neither the NFL nor the team have taken further action.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love legalese? I just love the way lawyers can take something apalling and re-word it to soften the blow for their clients, even though they are as guilty as sin. Take this phrase. Instead of saying that Michael Vick brutally killed dogs that didn’t perform well, you say this:

“Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts” of Vick and two of the co-defendants, Phillips and Peace, the statement said.

It was a collective effort, see? And the dogs weren’t killed, they died as a result of the collective effort.

Just as a refresher, dogs that did not do well were killed by:

  • gunshots
  • drowning
  • hanging
  • electrocution
    And let’s not forget the fact that these dogs were not fed on a regular basis. It kept them hungry for the other dogs. There were also rape stands that would hold dogs in place, forcing them to mate, and electric treadmills to keep the dogs in perfect physical condition, I presume. When authorities searched the place, they seized 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and many were tethered to car axles with chains that allowed them to get close enough to the other dogs to get them angry, but not close enough to fight.
  • I also don’t particularly like the deal people often get from entering a plea agreement. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card! Oh, Mr. Vick, you pled guilty, and therefore, you must be feeling remorseful. Let’s go a little easier on you now, ok?

    Just because someone owns up — and especially when they only own up after realizing that they have no prayer of tap dancing their way out of it — it still does not change what they did. Michael Vick has ‘fessed up. It doesn’t change the brutal treatment of these dogs and the atrocities committed against them. This judge apparently has a reputation for being tough, and I hope he is. I hope Michael Vick is punished to the fullest extent of the law, fined to the skies, and is never able to play football again. While I don’t agree with PETA in that “the sports world is plagued with athletes who show cruelty to animals”, that doesn’t change how abhorrent and despicable I think what Michael Vick did is and, through the bankrolling of the operation, made possible to be done.

    Anyone who might be the least bit sympathetic, don’t be. After he gets out, he’ll still be a multi-millionaire — at least, as long as he’s managed his money well. And I’m sure he’ll still be remembered in Atlanta as a great runningback quarterback (that likes to run a lot and throw very little).

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