Football player pleads guilty to dogfighting
DISGRACED AMERICAN Football star Michael Vick pleaded guilty to a single charge of dog fighting in court on Monday of this week.
It had been rumoured that Vick had previously instructed his lawyers to enter a plea agreement which did not include an admission that he personally killed dogs or gambled on dog fighting matches. Vick’s defence team met with federal attorneys last Thursday to determine the ‘summary of facts’ to which Vick would plea.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, whose fate in the US National Football League remains a question mark, was indicted on dog fighting charges after police raided his home in April as part of a drugs investigation involving his cousin. No drugs were found, but a number of dogs and dog fighting equipment were seized.
The alleged deal ignored more damaging information reportedly provided by Vick's co-defendants to federal investigators. The footballer and three others, all of whom have agreed plea deals, are accused of running an organised dog fighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels over several years.
When Vick's property in Virginia was raided, 54 Pit Bull Terriers were found, some with apparent dog fighting injuries, as well as training equipment like a treadmill and a stick used to pry open dogs' jaws.
At the court in Richmond, Virginia, US Judge Henry Hudson accepted Michael Vick's guilty plea on Monday and scheduled a December 10th sentencing date that could send the fallen NFL superstar to prison.
Judge Hudson emphasized that he is not bound by sentencing guidelines and can impose the maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. The judge told Vick: ‘You'll have to live with whatever decision I make.’
In his written plea, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings, but merely associating with gambling can result in a lifetime ban under the NFL's personal conduct policy.