The conviction of Jose Padilla is more bad news for Michael Vick, already facing charges connected with his participation in a dogfighting operation. This means he needs to be worried about the lawsuit filed in July by Jonathan Lee Riches, which alleges that Vick is involved not only with dogfighting but also with al-Qaeda.
I’m a little late to this story, which was reported in July (not long after it was filed) by the law blog "Above the Law," but it seems to have stayed under the radar until FOX News learned about it recently. Still, it’s worth commenting on further.
Riches is currently a guest of FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Williamsburg, in South Carolina, something I confirmed with the Bureau of Prisons’ handy Federal Inmate Locator tool. (You’ll want to bookmark that one.) He alleges a laundry list of torts and civil rights violations, as well as the terrorism allegations that have shocked and/or amused the world.
- First, Riches alleges that Vick stole two of his pit bulls to use them in dogfighting. Vick craftily damaged the RFID chips that Riches says he installed in the dog collars, in order to keep Riches from tracking them (from prison). Vick used the dogs for fighting on three days in April, and on April 28, their usefulness evidently at an end, Vick "sold [the] dogs on eBay . . . and used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran Government."
- Second, he accuses Vick of identity theft. Vick, apparently desperate to scrape together some money for dog food although in the midst of a 10-year, $130 million contract, stole Riches’ identity "from [his] coat" and used it to open accounts at PetSmart and Doggie Warehouse.
- Third, Vick "violated my copyright laws" by using Riches’ copyrighted name (Riches uses the copyright symbol after his name throughout the complaint) on his football uniform as well as his casual clothing. Again showing great cunning, Vick chose to steal the name of a federal inmate "to sell T-shirts, Jonathan Lee Riches mugs, [and] Mr. Riches Hats" rather than trying to profit from his own celebrity.
- Finally, the allegations became more shocking in Count Four. "On Feb. 10th, 2007," Riches alleges, Vick "plead alliengence to Al-qaeda." He also subjected Riches to "microwave testing," sold illegal steroids, and, most damningly, "used drugs in school zones."
Riches decided to shoot for the moon in terms of relief. He would like a TRO to stop Vick from using his copyrighted name, from stealing his dogs, and most importantly, "to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes." (Hey, this isn’t Barry Bonds we’re talking about here. Take it easy.) Riches would also like "63,000,000,000.00 billion dollars," collected from Vick and "backed by gold and silver," delivered by UPS to the front gates of FCI Williamsburg.
Opinion has varied as to whether Riches is demanding 63 billion dollars or 63 billion billion dollars, but I think it has to be the former. 63 billion billion could more easily have been written as "63 quintillion" or 6.3×1019. This is a very large number. For comparison, there are less than a trillion stars in the entire galaxy, less than a quadrillion cells in the human body, and only (!) about one quintillion insects on the Earth. (Somehow it seems less huge when you learn that there are 9 quintillion (263) different ways to fill out your NCAA tournament bracket, but still.) Even at Vick’s salary, if I’ve done this math right, he would have to play ball for hundreds of billions of years to pay a judgment based on the larger number.
So that can’t be what Riches is claiming. That would just be stupid.
Like most inmates who do this kind of thing, Jonathan Lee Riches has sued before. And at least some of his prior work is significantly funnier than Riches v. Vick. Exhibit A in that regard is Riches v. Bush et al., a 2006 case filed in the Eastern District of Philadelphia. In that case, the comedy consists mostly of the defendants Riches joined. The link above goes to a 57-page docket entry showing that Riches named everyone from the President of the United States down to Tony Danza (or, up to Tony Danza, depending on your point of view). Also named: Donald Trump, Mike Tyson, Shawn Combs (d/b/a Puff Daddy, d/b/a P. Diddy), Christina Applegate, Pope Benedict XVI, Lambeau Field, the Panama Canal Commission, and "various Buddhist monks."