NFL: Vick illegally spent pension funds
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 2009
RICHMOND, Va. ó The U.S. Department of Labor filed complaints Wednesday accusing suspended NFL star Michael Vick of illegally spending about $1.3 million in pension plan funds for his own benefit, including paying restitution ordered in his dogfighting conspiracy case.
The department filed the complaints in federal district and bankruptcy courts the same day Vick left a federal lockup in Kansas, apparently bound for Virginia to appear at a bankruptcy hearing next week. Vick was at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City late Wednesday afternoon.
Mark Lichtenstein, one of Vick’s bankruptcy attorneys, declined to comment on both the Labor Department allegations and the details of Vick’s apparent temporary move to Virginia for the April 2 hearing.
The Labor Department said Vick made a series of prohibited transfers from a pension plan sponsored by MV7, a celebrity marketing company owned by the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback. The department alleges that Vick violated his duties as trustee of a pension plan that covered nine current or former MV7 employees.
“This action sends a message that the Labor Department will not tolerate the misuse of plan money and will take whatever steps necessary to recover the assets owed to eligible workers,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a prepared statement.
The department also accused two of Vick’s former financial advisers, Mary R. Wong and David A. Talbot, of participating in some of the transfers.
The filing further complicates Vick’s bankruptcy case, which has gradually moved along in Newport News while Vick serves a 23-month prison term in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. The judge presiding over the bankruptcy case has ordered Vick to testify in person at next week’s hearing on confirmation of his Chapter 11 plan.
U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said Wednesday that Vick was at the Oklahoma transfer facility but added that she could not disclose the inmate’s ultimate destination until it he arrives. There was no indication of when Vick left Leavenworth or when he would arrive in Virginia.
Vick will likely be kept in a southeastern Virginia jail until the hearing, but it wasn’t known which one. Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan said he had not been notified that Vick would be staying in the city jail, but it was possible Vick and federal marshals could show up unannounced.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro earlier this month rejected the idea of allowing testimony by video hookup, saying he needed Vick in the courtroom so he could assess his demeanor and credibility.
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.