(For updated info since this post, click on Vick label in the sidebar.)
NFL Pro Michael Vick today was sentenced by Judge Henry E. Hudson to 23 months in prison and 3 year's probation, and received a $5,000 fine, on federal charges related to dogfighting. Vick has admitted bankrolling the Bad Newz Kennel dogfighting ring, that operated from his 15-acre Surry County, Virginia, property.
Vick faced a 5-year prison sentence; however, he - like his co-defendants - received a sentence stronger than recommended by federal prosecutors. Interestingly enough, Vick received a sentence months longer than did his cohorts. Fourth defendant Tony Taylor still awaits sentencing. Vick surrendered himself November 19, getting a jump start on serving time. All four still face similar Virginia state charges and sentencing prospects.
I must say, though, that it's curious that Vick received a sentence harsher than his dogfighting pals. Is it because he bankrolled the operation and ran it on his property? Is it because he first denied everything and fought to "clear...(his) good name"?
Additionally, I'd thought that Vick would receive a sentence that would be timed such that he would be able to attend pro football spring training. That, obviously, will be a challenge for Vick; time off for "good behavior" is currently an unknown. Michael Vick should see the light of day again sometime in October 2009, in time for the holidays.
It's very sad - and I truly am sorry for Vick - that a man who had essentially everything - opportunity, public support and adoration, money, a great career, respect - has fallen this hard due to his own hand. In addition to putting his football career in grave danger, Vick owes almost $1 million for the care of the animals seized from his property, banks have filed suit claiming default on loans, his home is up for sale, and he has been instructed to reimburse the Atlanta Falcons approximately $20 million in signing bonus money. And, Vick has lost all product endorsements and monies.
Will Vick's fate send a message about dogfighting? About animal cruelty? I honestly do not believe Vick's story will stop whatever is being done now, at least on a large scale. Perhaps it will make similarly involved American celebrities and politicians - and other "authorities" - think twice about their involvement, if for no other reason than possible financial ruin. Perhaps Vick's sentence will act as moral or ethic preventive factor among youth, or those starting out.
We can only hope.
To read a CNN article on Vick's sentencing today, click on this link. To read the NY Times story about Vick's sentencing, click on this link.
To read a copy of Vick's guilty plea agreement on federal dogfighting charges, click on this link at Find Law.