Crime, Michael Vick, Pets, Sentencing Law, Violence

Michael Vick: His Co-Defendants Are Barking Up A Storm

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThings aren’t look so hot for football star Michael Vick right now. See here and here.
Despite the incriminating statements of his co-defendants, Vick still hasn’t reached a plea agreement with the government. Rumor has it that there’s a split among Vick’s lawyers about whether to take a plea deal.
After the jump, we post an analysis from a reader suggesting that, under the applicable Sentencing Guidelines (which are of course advisory post-Booker), Vick shouldn’t necessarily serve prison time.
But we suspect that the feds wouldn’t allow Vick to get off without some prison time (at least a year). And if Vick doesn’t plead guilty to the current indictment, they’ll nail him with a superseding indictment that includes RICO charges (which will vastly ramp up his exposure if convicted).
Check out this reader’s analysis, after the jump.

A caveat. Please note that we received this sentencing analysis some time ago (and we apologize for the belated posting). It was sent to us well before:

(1) it became clear how seriously the feds are taking this case,

(2) the government indicated its intent to file a superseding indictment if Vick doesn’t plead, and

(3) Vick’s co-defendants pleaded guilty (and submitted written statements that are quite incriminating as to Vick).

So this reader’s analysis may be on the optimistic side (from Vick’s point of view). But here it is, for whatever it’s worth:

I have been fielding calls from my non-lawyer friends about how Michael “Ookie” Vick’s indictment will impact this coming football season, particularly with respect to fantasy football. If like me, your buddies also call you for insight on celebrity justice, I have provided my research below.

Michael a/k/a Ookie was indicted for conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog fight in an animal fighting venture, contra 18 USC 371, 18 USC 1952, 7 USC 2156. The indictment also contains a forfeiture count.

The conspiracy guideline 2X1.1 requires the use of the guideline for the substantive offenses which were the objects of the conspiracy. The guideline for violation of 18 USC 1952 is 2E1.2, which requires the use the greater of a base offense level of 6 or the base offense level for the unlawful activity for which the interstate travel aided. The indictment alleges the unlawful activity was engaging in an illegal gambling business, which is governed by 2E3.1. The base offense level under 2E3.1 is 12. The misdemeanor violation of 7 USC 2156 will likely be subsumed into the base offense level of 12 (otherwise the guideline is 2X5.2 and the base offense level is 6). I do not believe any specific offense characteristics apply.

Therefore, assuming a net offense level of 12 and no criminal history, Ookie is looking at about 10-16 months in a low security federal prison camp. However, his offense falls within Zone C of the Sentencing Table, so he is eligible to serve one-half of his sentence on supervised release or home confinement. Of course, in light of Booker, a judge is not bound by the sentencing guidelines, but they nevertheless provide useful guidance.

Now, with all that said, I assume Ookie will hire some damn fine defense attorneys. If they are at all skillful, they should be able to negotiate a plea deal, limiting Ookie’s potential sentence to probation or home detention. The NFL would then probably suspend Vick for a couple of games, but my guess is that he will serve the suspension at the beginning of next season. So, as long as Ookie is not overly distracted and stays healthy (a big if), I would suggest Vick should be the 10th to 14th QB taken in fantasy drafts this year.

Co-defendants say Vick helped execute dogs [CNN]
Cohorts Say Vick’s A Dog Killer [The Smoking Gun]

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