Michael Vick Suspended by NFL

(CBS/AP) The NFL indefinitely suspended Michael Vick without pay Friday just hours after he acknowledged in court papers that he did, indeed, bankroll gambling on dogfighting and helped kill some dogs not worthy of the pit.

Vick, however, insisted he placed no bets of his own nor took any winnings.

In disciplining Vick, commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick's admitted conduct was "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible" and regardless whether he personally placed bets, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

A "summary of facts" signed by Vick was filed along with his written plea agreement on a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge. He will appear before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson to formally plead guilty Monday and then await sentencing at a later date.

The court documents and a statement by Vick's legal team seek to portray him as less involved in the dogfighting ring than three co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.

"While Mr. Vick is not personally charged with or responsible for committing all of the acts alleged in the indictment, as with any conspiracy charge, he is taking full responsibility for his actions and the actions of the others involved," the defense team said in a written statement after the plea agreement was filed.

"Mr. Vick apologizes for his poor judgment in associating himself with those involved in dog fighting and realizes he should never have been involved in this conduct," the statement said.

Vick signed the plea agreement late Thursday.

"Most of the Bad Newz Kennels operation and gambling monies were provided by Vick," a summary of facts in the case said, echoing language in plea agreements by three co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty.

The statement said that when the kennel's dogs won, the gambling proceeds were generally shared by Vick's three co-defendants — Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips.

"Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights. Vick did not receive any of the proceeds of the purses that were won by Bad Newz Kennels," the summary said.

According to the statement, Vick also was involved with the others in killing six to eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions last April. The dogs were executed by drowning or hanging.

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Plea Agreement | Summary Of The Facts
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"Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts" of Vick and two of the co-defendants, Phillips and Peace, the statement said.

In the plea agreement, the government committed to recommending a sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guideline range of a year to 18 months. However, the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, and the judge is not bound by any recommendation or by the sentencing guidelines.

Hudson has a reputation for imposing stiff sentences, according to lawyers who have appeared in his court. The judge will set a sentencing date at Monday's hearing.

"Our position has been that we are going to try to help Judge Hudson understand all the facts and Michael's role," Vick's defense attorney, Billy Martin, said in telephone interview. "Michael's role was different than others associated with this incident."

Martin said Vick will "speak to the public and explain his actions." Though he declined to say when and where, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a syndicated program based in Dallas, said it will have a live interview with Vick on Tuesday.

It is not uncommon in plea agreements for the defendant to plead guilty to only one charge and to negotiate with prosecutors over the specific facts to which he’ll admitting, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen said. In this case, prosecutors may not care that he’s not admitted to gambling so long as he gets a significant prison sentence.

The U.S. attorney's office, which has declined to comment on the case, said it would issue a statement after the hearing.

The case began in April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of Vick's cousin raided a Surry County property owned by Vick and found dozens of dogs, some injured, and equipment commonly used in dogfighting.

A federal indictment issued in July charged Vick, Peace, Phillips and Taylor with an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. Vick initially denied any involvement, and all four men pleaded innocent.

Taylor was the first to change his plea to guilty, saying Vick financed the dogfighting ring's gambling and operations. Peace and Phillips soon followed, alleging that Vick joined them in killing dogs that did not measure up in test fights.

The sickening details outlined in the indictment and other court papers prompted a public backlash against Vick, who had been one of the NFL's most popular players.

Vick was barred from the Falcons training camp, but neither the NFL nor the team have taken further action.

Meanwhile, Vick's father said he asked his son to give up dogfighting, or to at least put property used in the venture in the names of others to avoid being implicated, according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In The Journal-Constitution report posted on the newspaper's Web site Thursday night, Michael Boddie, who is estranged from Vick and the quarterback's mother, also said some time around 2001 his son staged dogfights in the garage of the family home in Newport News, Va.

Boddie told the newspaper Vick kept fighting dogs in the family's backyard, including dogs that were "bit up, chewed up, exhausted." Boddie claimed to have nursed the dogs back to health.

The indictment against Vick does not mention the parents' former home in Newport News.

In the report, Boddie dismissed the idea that Vick's longtime friends were the main instigators of the dogfighting operation.

"I wish people would stop sugarcoating it," Boddie told The Journal-Constitution. "This is Mike's thing. And he knows it ... likes it, and he has the capital to have a set up like that."

More than 50 pit bulls seized from Vick's property faced a Thursday deadline to be claimed or be euthanized.

Federal prosecutors filed court documents last month to condemn 53 pit bulls seized in April as part of the investigation into dogfighting on the Vick's property. No one has claimed any of the dogs, which are being held at several unspecified shelters in eastern Virginia, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

The report said Boddie and the quarterback have had a volatile relationship for years and that his son has refused to speak with him directly for the last 2½ half months.

Boddie, 45, lives in an apartment his son has paid the rent on for the last three years. Vick, who has a $130 million contract with the Falcons, also gives him a couple of hundred dollars every week or two, the father told the newspaper.

In the report, Boddie also said he asked Vick for $1 million, spread out over 12 years, Vick declined, the father said. Recently, Boddie asked Vick, through an assistant, for $700,000 to live on.

© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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