Feds want to use about $1 million of Vick's assets for dogs

Updated: November 20, 2007, 6:24 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- Michael Vick's "deteriorating financial condition" prompted federal prosecutors to ask a judge to order the former NFL star to set aside nearly $1 million for the care of pit bulls seized from his dogfighting operation.

In court papers filed Tuesday, the government asked U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson to issue a restraining order that essentially would freeze about $928,000 to fulfill Vick's legal obligation to cover the costs of caring for the dogs and finding homes for them.

Vick faces a prison term of up to five years when he is sentenced Dec. 10 on a federal dogfighting conspiracy conviction. He voluntarily began serving his prison term early on Monday.

As part of his plea deal, Vick agreed to make restitution for the care and placement of the 54 pit bulls confiscated from his Bad Newz Kennels property in Surry County. Prosecutors cited a rash of claims by Vick's creditors and former employer that threaten his ability to make good on the agreement:

• An arbitrator's ruling that Vick should repay the Atlanta Falcons nearly $20 million in bonus money.

• A lawsuit by Wachovia Bank claiming Vick and others defaulted on a $1.3 million loan for a wine store.

• Royal Bank of Canada's lawsuit seeking payment for default on a $2.5 million credit line.

• A lawsuit by 1st Source Bank of South Bend, Ind., seeking at least $2 million for loans involving a rental car business.

"The current events outlined above regarding Vick's deteriorating financial condition demonstrate the validity of the government's concern about the defendant's ability to fulfill his legal obligation by the time he is sentenced on December 10, 2007," prosecutors said in their motion.

Vick's lead attorney, Billy Martin, did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

The prosecutors said the civil actions against Vick suggest "demands for payment by Vick have gone unheeded," and that published reports indicate the former Virginia Tech star has listed a suburban Atlanta home for sale for $4.5 million.

Vick's troubles began in April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of his cousin seized dogs and equipment linked to dogfighting from a Surry County property.

Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to dogfighting conspiracy charges. Vick, suspended indefinitely by the NFL without pay, admitted in his plea agreement to helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights.

The four men also face state felony charges. Vick has been charged with two state felony counts -- beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press