Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was indicted once more, this time by a grand jury in Surry County on Tuesday. He and his three co-defendants, all of whom plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges on running dogfighting operations, have now been indicted on two state charges of killing a dog and engaging in and promoting dogfighting. They will be arraigned on October 3.
The AJC reports that these two additional felony charges can carry the maximum penalty of ten years in prison, which could be served either consecutively or concurrently with his federal term. He is set to be sentenced in the federal case in December.
The AJC also reports that an arbitrator is set to meet the day after Vick’s arraignment to hear arguments on the Falcons attempts to recoup roughly $20 million in paid bonus money from Vick.
The NFL has levied an indefinite suspension against Michael Vick within hours of the summary of facts being released in his guilty plea on Friday. Vick will officially enter this plea agreement on Monday.
In the summary of facts, Vick admits guilt to most of the facts listed in the initial indictment. Including bankrolling the property in Smithfield and also the purses won or lost at ensuing dogfights, although it does indicate that the purses won off the fights were split mainly between his other co-defendants. It also admits that Vick was involved in the deaths of six to eight dogs this past April, in which he and two others dispatched these dogs by various means.
According to an AJC report the Falcons will begin to attempt to recoup bonus money remaining on Vick’s $130 million contract he signed in 2004. Previous reports suggest the amount of money the Falcons could receive is up to $28 million.
Vick’s suspension will be reviewed upon the completion of legal proceedings. As a result of his guilty plea to federal charges, it is now expected that Vick will be indicted next month on state charges in Virginia.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has provided a copy of Vick’s plea agreement in PDF format.
Michael Vick has decided to plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges. On August 27, Vick will enter his guilty plea, after initially pleading not guilty back on July 26. On August 27, Vick is expected to sign a statement of facts similar to those signed by codefendants Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace this past Friday. At a later date, Vick will be sentenced. Phillips and Peace will be sentenced on November 30. According to federal sentencing guidelines, Vick is expected to face between 12 and 18 months in prison.
The NFL released a statement following news of Vick’s change in plea:
We are aware of Michael Vick’s decision to enter a guilty plea to the federal charges against him and accept responsibility for his conduct. We totally condemn the conduct outlined in the charges, which is inconsistent with what Michael Vick previously told both our office and the Falcons. We will conclude our own review under the league’s personal conduct policy as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have asked the Falcons to continue to refrain from taking action pending a decision by the commissioner.
As did the Falcons:
We are certainly troubled with the news today concerning Michael Vick’s guilty plea to federal charges. It is our understanding that the terms of Michael’s plea will not be available until next Monday, August 27. Additionally, Commissioner Goodell has asked us not to take any action until he has completed his own review of Michael’s situation. Accordingly, we will have no further comment until that time.
Vick was indicted on July 17 by federal authorities, but has yet to face an indictment on local Virginia charges. Evidence about Vick’s involvement with dogfighting is expected to go to grand jury in Surry County at the end of September. He can face up to 40 years in prison based on state charges.
Any suspension of Vick seems likely upon his admission of guilt, although there has been no timetable set for when such a suspension will be meted out.
Contrary to previous reports, the AJC reports that a suspension of Michael Vick is not imminent due to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s plan to remain patient. Goodell’s patience is based upon the findings of special investigator Eric Holder. Holder was appointed by the league to gather information and evidence whether or not Vick violated the league’s personal conduct policy. There has been no formal timetable on when Holder’s report will be issued, but per SI.com’s Peter King, that is at least a week away.
In other Vick-related news, the remaining co-defendants in the federal conspiracy case against Vick have opted to plead guilty. Of the four people named in the federal indictment, Vick now remains the only one who has plead not guilty. ESPN is reporting that Vick and his attorneys are currently weighing their options on whether to change to a guilty plea, and that there is a Friday deadline for such a change to occur. ESPN indicates that the federal government will soon file their superseding indictment after which Vick will face two more federal dogfighting charges along with his current conspiracy charge.
Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole reports that a suspension of Michael Vick is nearing. Cole reports that two league sources indicate that either this week or next week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce that Vick will be suspended for the entire 2007 NFL season. Cole indicates that the suspension of Vick may be due to a violation of the league’s gambling policies.
According to Cole’s sources, the league seems intent on announcing Vick’s fate prior to the start of the regular season. Currently, Vick is under an indefinite leave of absence imposed by Goodell. Vick’s trial is due to begin on November 26, 2007.
Michael Vick plead not guilty at his arraignment today in Richmond, Virginia. Vick will receive a jury trial which is set to begin on November 26, which will coincide with the end of Week 12 of the NFL schedule.
Vick may face up to six years in federal prison and pay around $350,000 in fines if convicted.
According to Lester Munson of ESPN Vick could face further charges down the road due to a “superceding indictment” that will be filed by prosecutors by the end of the month. Charges could be added or eliminated, but per Munson, it is likely they will be added.
Fox 5 Atlanta reports that according to the NFL, Michael Vick is expected to take a leave of absence, stemming from his federal indictment.
Various reports earlier today have indicated that a decision by either Comissioner Roger Goodell or Falcons owner Arthur Blank was expected to occur soon. It has not yet been confirmed if this leave of absence is the decision reached by either party.
UPDATE: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports confirms the FOX 5 report indicated that the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to order Michael Vick to not attend the Falcons upcoming training camp when practices begin this Thursday on July 26. All Falcons players are supposed to report by midnight the previous evening. Vick is scheduled to be at an arraignment on Thursday at 3:30 when the Falcons first practices begin at 3:00 pm Eastern.
Glazer’s report indicates that this may be the first of many actions the league decides to take against Vick. This current move is designed to buy more time for more information to be either revealed or processed by the NFL.
It seems that due to this mandate from the league office, Vick will not be found in default of his contract, and the Falcons will not seek to pursue the return of bonus money from Vick in the immediate future.
According to a report by CBS 46 Atlanta, Falcons defensive back Jimmy Williams was cited on June 2 just outside Richmond, VA for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Williams has disputed the charges. He was scheduled to make a court appearance last week, which has been pushed back to December 3.
ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Falcons have the ability to recover a large sum of the guaranteed money they paid Michael Vick when he received a ten-year contract extension in 2004 worth a total of $130 million. Due to his federal indicment Vick is set to be arraigned on July 26, the first day of the Falcons 2007 training camp. Missing that day of practice could leave Vick in default of his contract, and thus allow the Falcons to recover a sizeable portion of money.
According to ProFootballTalk, the Falcons could recover $28.7 million of the $37.5 million guaranteed paid in his 2004 extension. That figure is based on how many potential games are left remaining through the extent of Vick’s contract, which is du to expire after the 2013 season. The Falcons may not choose to find Vick in default of his contract, by given him written permission to miss practices on July 26 and/or later dates. But the Falcons still hold the option to recover bonus money at a later date, but as time goes on, the potential money recovered will decrease.
Earlier reports suggested that because the majority of Vick’s guaranteed money was paid in roster bonuses, it would be less likely the Falcons would be able to recover that money due to arbitration on a grievance filed against former Falcon and Denver Bronco receiver Ashley Lelie last summer. The Broncos sought to recover bonus money from Lelie for holding out of off-season activities, but because it was option bonus money, Lelie was not deemed liable to repay that money. Previous reports suggested that roster bonuses would be treated similarly as option bonus, although the report at ProFootballTalk suggests otherwise.
In their second overall, yet arguably first official statement following the indictment of Michael Vick, Falcons owner Arthur Blank issued a letter to the fan base on Thursday evening:
A Message to our Fans:
We know you’re anxious to her more from us regarding the indictment of Michael Vick and its implications to the Falcons. Please be assured that we are working diligently on exploring our options and getting the right people involved in this situation.
This is an emotionally charged and complicated matter. There are a wide range of interests and legal issues that need to be carefully considered as we move ahead, including our need to respect the due process that Michael is entitled to. Also, this situation affects everyone — our club, our players and associates, our sponsors, our fans and the Atlanta community among them — so we must consider all of our customers in making any decisions.
Given the differing perspctives and strong feelings around this issue, we probably won’t make everyone happy, but we are committed to doing the right thing. As the owner of this club that’s, ultimately, my responsibility.
In the meantime, know that I’m sadden and distressed about this — not for myself, but for our fans and community who have been so loyal to us. We will do our very best to continue to earn your support.
Arthur M. Blank
Owner & CEO