Did you know that during the time Michael Vick was serving 1.5 years in prison for fighting dogs, Donté Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk, yet only served 24 days in jail.
In July 2007, Vick and three other men were charged by federal authorities with felony charges of operating an unlawful interstate dog fighting venture known as “Bad Newz Kennels”. Vick was accused of financing the operation, directly participating in dog fights and executions, and personally handling thousands of dollars in related gambling activities. Federal prosecutors indicated they intended to proceed under the provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
By August 20, Vick and the other three co-defendants agreed to separate plea bargains for the federal charges. They were expected to each receive federal prison sentences of between 12 months and five years. Four days later, Vick filed plea documents with the federal court. He pleaded guilty to “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture”. He admitted to providing most of the financing for the operation and to participating directly in several dog fights in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. He admitted to sharing in the proceeds from these dog fights. He further admitted that he knew his colleagues killed several dogs who did not perform well. He admitted to being involved in the destruction of 6–8 dogs, by hanging or drowning. The “victimization and killing of pit bulls” was considered an aggravating circumstance, allowing prosecutors to exceed the federal sentencing guidelines for the charge. Vick denied placing any side bets on the dogfights. On August 27, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted Vick’s guilty plea, but reminded Vick that he (Hudson) was under no obligation to accept the prosecution’s recommendation of a reduced sentence.
While free on bail, Vick tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test. This was a violation of the conditions of his release while awaiting sentencing in federal court. Vick’s positive urine sample was submitted on September 13, 2007, according to a document filed by a federal probation officer on September 26. As a result, Hudson ordered Vick confined to his Hampton, Virginia home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. with electronic monitoring until his court hearing date in December. He was ordered to submit to random drug testing.
In November, Vick turned himself in early to begin accruing time-served credit against his likely federal prison sentence. He was held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions. On December 10, Vick appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond for sentencing. Judge Hudson said he was “convinced that it was not a momentary lack of judgment” on Vick’s part, and that Vick was a “full partner” in the dog fighting ring, and he was sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison. Hudson noted that despite Vick’s claim to have accepted responsibility for his actions, his failure to cooperate fully with federal officials, coupled with a failed drug test and a failed polygraph, showed that he had not taken full responsibility for “promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity”. Vick was assigned to United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, a federal prison facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, to serve his sentence.
At the request of federal authorities before sentencing, Vick agreed to deposit nearly $1 million in an escrow account with attorneys for use to reimburse costs of caring for the confiscated dogs, most of which were being offered for adoption on a selective basis under supervision of a court-appointed specialist. Experts said some of the animals would require special care for the rest of their lives. During his bankruptcy trial, the U.S. Department of Labor complained that these funds were paid at least partially with unlawfully withdrawn monies that Vick held in trust for himself and eight other employees of MV7, a celebrity marketing company he owned