Prosecutors say Vick to pay nearly $1 million for dog care

WASHINGTON – U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday said football star Michael Vick, who is awaiting sentencing in connection with a dogfighting case, must pay nearly $1 million for the care of 54 pit bulls seized at his property this year.

The prosecutors filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia, asking District Judge Henry Hudson to freeze Vick’s assets to reserve the money to cover the bills.

In August, Vick pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with an illegal interstate dogfighting enterprise on his property. As part of the plea agreement, Vick agreed to pay restitution for all costs associated with the dogs seized from the enterprise known as Bad Newz Kennels.

“At sentencing, the government will request that this court honor the parties’ written plea agreement and enter an order for the total amount of caring for these dogs, which is currently estimated at approximately $928,073.04,” U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg wrote in the motion.

The motion said Vick had agreed to pay the costs related to the dogs, who are in U.S. custody and are being evaluated by animal experts to determine if any need to be euthanized or might be suitable for adoption. Vick will pay for their “care, euthanasia, and long-term care,” the motion said.

Vick faces a maximum of five years in prison though prosecutors have requested a 12- to 18-month sentence under terms of the plea deal. He will be sentenced on December 10, and on Monday turned himself in three weeks ahead of schedule to start serving his jail sentence.

The government said Vick, a quarterback who once had the most lucrative contract in the National Football League when he was signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004 to a 10-year, $130 million contract, had a “deteriorating financial condition.”

Vick, the top pick in the 2001 NFL draft who made more than $61 million in six seasons, has been suspended without pay by the NFL. He also lost valuable sponsorship contracts.

According to the motion, the Falcons and several financial institutions have launched legal proceedings against Vick in the past few weeks to recover millions of dollars related to his signing bonus and various loans.

It said an arbitrator has ruled that Vick could owe the Falcons nearly $20 million from the signing bonus. Vick has appealed the ruling.

The government said Wachovia Bank has sued Vick for defaulting on a $1.3 million loan for a wine store and the Royal Bank of Canada is seeking payment for default on a $2.5 million line of credit. First Source Bank of South Bend, Indiana, has also sued Vick for at least $2 million in loans involving a car rental business, the motion said.

“While the government is not familiar with the merits of these pending matters, the fact that these lawsuits and the arbitration proceeding have been filed suggests that demands for payment by Vick have gone unheeded,” the government’s motion said.