Former NFL star Michael Vick could be out of federal prison and in a Virginia halfway house by Jan. 20, one of his attorneys told a federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday. Vick is serving a 23-month prison term in Leavenworth, Kan., for bankrolling a dogfighting conspiracy and is scheduled to be released from federal custody around July 20.
Last month, Vick also pleaded guilty to a state dogfighting charge, avoiding more prison time. The case’s resolution also cleared the way for his early release from prison and possible transition into a halfway house. The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback’s long-distance absence has complicated his bankruptcy proceedings in Virginia, said Michael Blumenthal, one of Vick’s bankruptcy attorneys.
Conversely, the bankruptcy case might complicate plans for Vick’s transfer. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Frank Santoro ordered Vick’s appearance at a bankruptcy hearing set for Jan. 30 in Newport News. Paperwork to bring Vick from Leavenworth could take weeks to process and could delay the halfway house program, Blumenthal said. Blumenthal on Tuesday asked Santoro to postpone the hearing by a week, which would improve the chances of Vick being transferred before his required appearance in bankruptcy court. Santoro refused.
“Mr. Vick came into this court voluntarily,” the judge said. “I am not going to try to schedule around what may or may not be the convenience of Mr. Vick.” Santoro also rejected a financial disclosure statement Vick filed in the bankruptcy case and ordered him to submit a new one by Jan. 5. Major creditors had objected to the statement, saying it lacked sufficient detail about his finances and failed to back up his statement that he believes he will resume his NFL career after his release.
“The disclosure statement is not ripe for consideration,” Santoro said. “It needs to be redrafted in some respects – perhaps in some major respects.” He did not elaborate. Santoro scheduled a new hearing on the disclosure statement for Jan. 30. He ordered Vick to appear that same day for a hearing on whether a trustee should be appointed to take control of his assets. Vick, once the NFL’s highest-paid player and among its most popular, is currently earning 12 cents an hour at the federal penitentiary. He filed for federal bankruptcy protection in July, claiming assets of $16 million and liabilities of $20.4 million.
The disclosure statement submitted last month listed real estate holdings, luxury cars and boats, business interests, bank accounts and expenses to support a large extended family. But the thing that caught the creditors’ eye was the millions in unexplained cash withdrawals and transfers. The murky financial data and uncertainty about Vick’s future earnings make it hard to determine whether they should vote for Vick’s reorganization plan, the creditors said.
The creditors committee consists of the Falcons, Royal Bank of Canada, Wachovia Bank, 1st Source Bank and Radtke Sports. A fifth major creditor, Joel Enterprises Inc., filed its own objection to the disclosure statement. Vick pleaded guilty last December to a federal dogfighting conspiracy. Three co-defendants also pleaded guilty and were given shorter prison terms than Vick, who owned the Surry County property where pit bulls were trained to fight and some were executed.