Michael Vick Gets 23 Months

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Vick and three co-defendants still face trial on state dogfighting charges in Virginia. They are accused of torturing and killing dogs and promoting dogfights -- all felonies that carry five-year maximum sentences.



Michael Vick, once one of the highest paid players in the National Football League, was sentenced to 23 months in prison for financing a dogfighting ring and helping to kill pit bulls that did not fight aggressively.

Vick's stunning downfall from NFL superstar to disgraced dogfighting defendant culminated Monday in a 90-minute sentencing hearing in federal court in Richmond, Virginia.

Vick, 27, faced a maximum of five years in prison. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of 12 to 18 months. Animal rights protesters lined up outside the courthouse. Some carried signs with photographs of dogs, while others read "Dogs deserve justice," and "Report dog fighters."

Vick and three co-defendants still face trial on state dogfighting charges in Virginia. They are accused of torturing and killing dogs and promoting dogfights -- all felonies that carry five-year maximum sentences.

In his August plea agreement, Vick admitted bankrolling the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting operation on his 15-acre property in rural Surry County in southeastern Virginia. Vick also admitted providing money for bets on the fights but said he never shared in any winnings.

According to court documents, dogs that failed to show enough fighting spirit or lost matches were executed. Some dogs died by electrocution and others by hanging or drowning.

Co-defendants told prosecutors that Vick assisted in executing the dogs, and that they "executed approximately eight dogs." After initially denying any involvement, Vick acknowledged participating in killing to dogs in his plea agreement with prosecutors.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons star quarterback publicly apologized for his role in the dogfighting operation and unexpectedly turned himself in on November 19 to begin serving his prison term early. He has been held in a state jail in Warsaw, Virginia.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced Purnell Peace, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, to 18 months in prison. Quanis Phillips, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 21 months.

A third co-defendant, Tony Taylor of Hampton, Virginia will be sentenced Friday. He was the first to plead guilty. Peace, Phillips and Taylor entered plea agreements last summer under which they agreed to testify against Vick, prompting the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback to enter his own plea agreement a few days later.

Vick agreed to pay more than $928,000 for the care of some 54 pit bulls seized from his property. Prosecutors also have disclosed the extent of Vick's financial ruin. According to court documents, the Atlanta Falcons are attempting to recoup bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million football contract, Vick is in default on a $1.3 million bank loan for a wine store, and two other banks have filed suits seeking repayment of a $4.5 million in loans and lines of credit.

Vick's home in the Atlanta area is on the market for $4.5 million, prosecutors said in court papers. The Virginia home where the dogfighting operation was based, assessed at nearly $750,000, is on the auction block, according to reports published over the weekend.

Vick's attorneys last month requested a jury trial on the state charges. It is set to begin in April.

 


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