December 11, 2007 in Nation/World

Vick’s 23-month sentence harsher than co-defendants’

Larry O'dell Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Billy Martin, attorney for Michael Vick, speaks outside Federal Court after Vick’s sentencing on dogfighting charges Monday in Richmond, Va.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Michael Vick was sentenced to prison Monday for running a dogfighting operation and will stay there longer than two co-defendants, up to 23 months, because he lied about his involvement when he was supposed to be coming clean to the judge who would decide his fate.

The disgraced NFL star received a harsher sentence than the others in the federal conspiracy case because of “less than truthful” statements about killing pit bulls.

Vick said he accepted responsibility for his actions, but U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said he wasn’t so sure.

“I’m not convinced you’ve fully accepted responsibility,” Hudson told Vick, who arrived in court wearing the black-and-white-striped prison uniform he was issued when he voluntarily surrendered Nov. 19 to begin serving his sentence early.

Despite the early surrender, a public apology and participation in an animal sensitivity training course, Vick was denied an “acceptance of responsibility” credit that would have reduced his sentence. Federal prosecutors opposed awarding Vick the credit.

Dogs that did not perform up to expectations were killed by electrocution, hanging, drowning and other means by the dogfighting ring. Hudson said evidence, including statements by the co-defendants, showed Vick was more directly involved than he admitted. Hudson also mentioned that Vick had been deceptive on a polygraph test. Though that evidence was not admissible in court, the results were discussed.

Vick apologized to the court and his family members, who along with other supporters occupied most of two rows in the packed courtroom.

Although there is no parole in the federal system, with time off for good behavior Vick could be released in the summer of 2009.

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