Thursday, March 26, 2009

Digging the hole ever deeper

So Michael Vick is back in the news again, and yet again, it's for the wrong reasons.

I have linked to a reasonable, but incomplete AP article on the fact that Vick is being targeted by federal authorities again. This time for illegally dipping into MV7's, his company's, pension plan to the tune of $1.7 million in order to benefit himself. Those benefits included using at least a portion of the money to pay restitution ordered as part of his dog fighting conviction/plea.

As the trustee of a company's pension plan, this is a big federal no no.

The AP story fails to mention how. So let's address that...

When Vick entered his plea to the dog fighting charges, he was a first time offender, and as such, got off with a light sentence based on sentencing guidelines. Now the U.S. Department of Labor is alleging that Vick, in order to address one federal offense, committed a second one. The law that Vick allegedly violated is US Code: Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 31, Section 664 and reads as follows -

Any person who embezzles, steals, or unlawfully and willfully abstracts or converts to his own use or to the use of another, any of the moneys, funds, securities, premiums, credits, property, or other assets of any employee welfare benefit plan or employee pension benefit plan, or of any fund connected therewith, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

As used in this section, the term “any employee welfare benefit plan or employee pension benefit plan” means any employee benefit plan subject to any provision of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
It is interesting to note that Vick's bankruptcy does not absolve him of his fiscal responsibility to any pension plan he set up for his employees. And, if the allegation is true, Vick, in essence, stole $1.7 million from his employees, apparently with the aid of two of his fiscal advisers.

This severely complicates things going forward for Vick. According to the AP report -

Vick's plan for paying his creditors is based largely on his intention to resume his NFL career. Vick was suspended indefinitely after his 2007 indictment, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he will review Vick's status after he is released.

The Falcons still hold the contract rights to Vick but have said they will try to trade him. Vick's bankruptcy plan would allow him to keep the first $750,000 of his annual pay. After that, a percentage would go to his creditors based on a sliding scale.

In essence, Vick's future earnings are already being garnished to pay off his debts and the plan is based on the idea that he will return to playing football. As if Goodell didn't have enough ammo in regards to Vick between the dog fighting, lying to the NFL, and getting nailed for drug use while awaiting trial, now there's this. With this additional violation of federal statute, not only does it allow Roger Goodell to extend the suspension, it also looks like there may very well be additional jail time for Vick, whose stupidity seems to know no bounds.

And before I have the occasional meat-head that yells that it's a racial thing and the government is just trying to keep a black man down, let's remember that Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Warren Moon have all done quite well in spite of their bone-headed moves, and none of them ended up in jail.

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