Vick Joins Ranks of Those Sued by Prison Inmate Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick agreed Monday to plead guilty to running a dog-fighting operation. But Vick also found himself, along with NPR, George W. Bush and Barry Bonds, on the receiving end of a lawsuit by prison inmate Jonathan Lee Riches. Riches claims Vick used proceeds from a dog sale to fund the Iranians.
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Vick Joins Ranks of Those Sued by Prison Inmate

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Vick Joins Ranks of Those Sued by Prison Inmate

Vick Joins Ranks of Those Sued by Prison Inmate

Vick Joins Ranks of Those Sued by Prison Inmate

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/13822665/13822642" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick agreed Monday to plead guilty to running a dog-fighting operation. But Vick also found himself, along with NPR, George W. Bush and Barry Bonds, on the receiving end of a lawsuit by prison inmate Jonathan Lee Riches. Riches claims Vick used proceeds from a dog sale to fund the Iranians.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. How much time for Michael Vick? I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick.

The NFL star quarterback for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons will plead guilty for running a dogfighting operation. He'll likely go to jail for at least a year and may never play the professional football game again.

BRAND: But at least he won't have to worry about another lawsuit against him that was filed last week. A federal prisoner had sued Vick for $63 billion billion. That's right, billion billion, which translates roughly into, what, a gazillion?

CHADWICK: A gazillion dollars. The man filing the suit says that Michael Vick stole his pit bulls, sold them on eBay and used the profits to fund the Iranians.

As NPR's Mike Pesca reports, this plaintiff has a long history of outlandish lawsuits that go nowhere.

MIKE PESCA: Here are some of the people Jonathan Lee Riches has sued.

Unidentified Man: George W. Bush - individually and in his official capacity as president of the United States.

Unidentified Man: Richard B. Cheney, the Vice President.

Unidentified Woman: John Deere, tractors.

Unidentified Man: William Gates, chairman of Microsoft.

Unidentified Woman: WKRP in Cincinnati.

PESCA: Jonathan Lee Riches, copyright - no kidding - is serving time in federal lockup for fraud and identity theft. A brief survey of the more than a dozen lawsuits Riches has written down on lined paper and submitted to federal courts shows that he's both a convict and a sort of social commentator.

He has sued Barry Bonds for stealing Hank Aaron's bat and cracking the Liberty Bell. He sought to shed light on LeBron James and Wayne Gretzky's involvement with illegal wiretaps, global warming in the battle of Hastings. And oh, by the way, a full disclosure: he sued us

Unidentified Man: National Public Radio, NPR.

PESCA: Riches had sued the president, the prisons, and a bridge that collapsed in Iowa, orchestrated, he alleges, by the governor, who strategically used obese people to weaken the stanchions. And they say Tom Vilsack dropped out of the presidential race to spend more time with his family.

But in Riches's magnum opus, here read by trained NPR professionals, he sued the Magna Carta. He sued the pope. He sued almost every member of the Cabinet, actor Tony Danza, the Israeli Mossad...

Unidentified Man: Zeus.

PESCA: Zeus? The Internet loves Jonathan Lee Riches. But interspersed with analysis of how comedy and insanity collide, there is some discontent. Isn't he clogging up the courts? Don't all these lawsuits cost the taxpayers money? David Lat, who is the author of the legal blog Above the Law, says that Riches's cases, once received, would be immediately shuffled off to a law clerk and then...

Mr. DAVID LAT (Blogger): They would review the case. They might prepare some short disposition, and then essentially the judge would look it over and the judge would sign off on it. It is not a particularly taxing case in terms of the legal analysis.

PESCA: Well, how many man-hours would be spent on it?

Mr. LAT: I would be surprised if it was more than two or three.

PESCA: Lat was once a clerk himself, so he knows that their salaries are about $40,000 to $50,000 a year. On an hourly basis, taxpayers shell out about $60 in lost salary for clerks to handle Riches's cases.

The judgments against Mr. Riches tend to be brief, so there's not much ink or bandwidth spent on them. At it's structured, there seems to be almost no cost to the legal system or society as a whole for Riches to continue his performance art cum lawsuit career.

Unless Michael Vick really is funding the Iranians and we cavalierly dismiss the messenger as a loon. And who'll be laughing then?

Unidentified Man: Skittles candy.

PESCA: Skittles. Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.

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