Friday, August 17, 2007

Bad News Kennels nearly K-put

Michael Vick's last two co-defendants in federal conspiracy dog fighting charges changed their plea to guilty this morning before the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia.

Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta face sentencing of up to five years on the charges. Both signed statements acknowledging that all of the facts in the federal indictments against them were true, and that they would cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Vick.

CNN reports that the statements included details that Vick joined the two defendants when they "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions" in April of this year by methods such as hanging and drowning. Vick met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in late April and denied any involvement in dog fighting.

The feds threaten to file superseding charges against Vick next week when a federal grand jury will be empaneled. Those charges are likely to include racketeering charges. They have offered Vick a plea deal that would call for Vick to spend a year or less of jail time. No agreement was reached by Noon today.

Vick apparently is weighing the impact of a guilty plea on his ability to return to football at the end of any sentence. His agreement to a plea deal depends on what he thinks he hears from the NFL about his future.

Vick has contract law and the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement working in his favor. The NFL does not have sole discretion to just drop him. The league owners agreed to restrict that right last year -- mistakenly, I think -- to reach the new contract with the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA objected to the disciplinary actions that Philadelphia Eagles used against Terrell Owens.

Working against Vick is the additional charges the fed intend to file. Racketeering and gambling charges are serious business. The league suspended Paul Hornung for a year for gambling. The NFL might be persuaded to limit itself to an eight game suspension for a dog fighter. Racketeering could get you banned for life.

It seem unlikely that Vick would plead guilty to racketeering. If a plea is coming, it will be before the more serious charges are filed next week.

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