Breaking News: Michael Vick Sentenced to 23 Months In Prison
Scheduled to be released October ’09. Will he play again?
Statement from Michael Vick’s lawyer, Billy Martin: “We hope that Michael will be released in 18 months. Michael has known from the very beginning that there were severe consequences to the bad judgment he used for engaging in dog fighting. He knows the sentenced that Judge Hudson gave him today is a direct result of his conduct. Unfortunately, Michael knows he is (inaudible) now to 18 months because of his conduct. Michael does accept that. As you can imagine, Michael is very disappointed. He’s saddened. Michael will take advantage of this as a learning experience. He now knows that when he returns back to us that he cannot in anyway, do anything that will injure an animal or will otherwise show that he is not a good member of society. I am willing to say that when Michael gets a second chance–either in society or in the NFL–he will take advantage of it. For now, he has closed this chapter in his life and he’s prepared to start another one, and I wish him well. I know for those of you who understand in life we all make mistakes will treat Michael Vick–somebody who has fallen so far and so hard and so fast–as being punished for his mistakes and he is accepting that punishment.”
Michael Vick received a 23-month prison sentence Monday for his role in a dogfighting operation.
The sentence, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson, ended an eight month legal odyssey for Vick that saw him go from NFL star and the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise to a prison inmate. The sentence on federal felony charges means Vick, suspended indefinitely by the NFL, won’t play again until at least 2010. He still faces the league suspension. He has also been indicted in Virginia on state dogfighting charges and faces lawsuits from several banks. The Falcons are awaiting an arbitration ruling in an attempt to recoup $20 million in bonus money paid to Vick.
Vick and three co-defendants entered plea agreements for their roles establishing Bad Newz Kennels, a dogfighting operation run from a house Vick owned in Surry County, Virginia. Vick faced a maximum sentence of five years. Two of the co-defendants were sentenced last week. Purnell Peace received 18 months and Quanis Phillips received 21 months. Tony Taylor will be sentenced on Friday.
As of 8 a.m. Monday, more than 25 television trucks were parked by the courthouse. Reporters began lining up before 6 a.m. for one of 100 seats in the courtroom. There are also 200 seats in an adjoining courtroom with a live video feed.
Vick, who reported to prison last month, also failed a test for marijuana in September that prompted Hudson to restrict the conditions of his release after a guilty plea and included electronic monitoring and a curfew.
The scene outside the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia was already similar to those for other Vick court appearances.
There were supporters and protesters present.
About two dozen animal rights activists were near the courthouse prior to the hearing, some with signs that read “Report Dogfighters!” and “Dogs Deserve Justice.”
“I hope that people who are involved in this bloodsport realize this is a deadened activity with meaningful consequences,” John Goodwin, the manager of animal fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States, said Monday morning.
There were also several Vick supporters wearing his No. 7 Falcons jersey.
The Atlanta-based New Order Human Rights Organization held a rally Sunday and planned to be in Richmond, according to founder Gerald Rose.
“Michael Vick made a bad mistake,” Rose told the Associated Press. “But at the same time, we believe in second chances. I think God has got Michael Vick’s attention. He’s going to come back a better man.”
Vick’s sentencing hearing comes on the same day the Falcons play New Orleans on Monday Night Football. It’s another turn in a bizarre season for the team, which is just 3-9 without its star quarterback, that has been intertwined with Vick’s legal issues. Vick’s court hearing to enter his plea agreement came on the same day the Falcons played a preseason game against Buffalo. His initial court appearance in the case was the same day the Falcons opened training camp.
“It’s been so tough,” Falcons center Todd McClure told the AJC this week. “My wife knows more than anybody. I go home and vent to her just about every day. It’s the most frustrating season I’ve been involved with because of the chain of events.”
“You were instrumental in organizing and promoting this activity,” Hudson said from the bench in Richmond, Virginia. “I’m convinced it wasn’t a momentary lapse. You were at least a full partner. I’m not sure you’ve taken full responsibility for your role in this activity.”
In imposing a sentence toward the top of the 18- to 24- month guideline for the crime, Hudson pointed to Vick’s testing positive for marijuana use after his plea agreement, and the fact that the quarterback wasn’t forthcoming with prosecutors.
Vick apologized “to the court, to my family and to my kids.”
“I’ve used poor judgment and made some bad decisions along the way,” Vick said. “I’m willing to deal with the consequences.”
Vick said he would continue to stand against dogfighting and animal cruelty.
“I think I deserve a second chance,” he said.
Damn right he does.
“This is a difficult day for Michael’s family and for a lot of us, including many of our players and fans who have been emotionally invested in Michael over the years,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “We sincerely hope that Michael will use this time to continue to focus his efforts on making positive changes in his life, and we wish him well in that regard.”
Damage control at its best. We’ll see what kind of statement is made with Michael’s release.