Vick Co-Defendant To Testify Against Falcons Star

  
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Purred: Fri Aug 3, '07 10:45am PST 
Vick Co-Defendant To Testify Against Falcons Star
Posted on Monday, 30 of July , 2007 at 10:19 pm
RICHMOND, VA—Last week, Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Michael Vick pleaded not guilty to federal dog fighting conspiracy charges but he got sacked Monday when one of his co-defendants in the case pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Vick and two others.

Tony Taylor, 34, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced on Dec. 14. He says he hasn’t been promised any specific sentence.

Vick, his cousin and two friends were charged in the alleged conspiracy and all were released on their own recognizance pending a Nov. 26 trial date after pleading not guilty Thursday.

Taylor changed his plea Monday.

Vick, 27, of Atlanta, was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month along with Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach; Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta and Taylor, of Hampton, for conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Peace and Phillips have also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

According to a statement of facts signed by Taylor as part of his plea agreement, he said that the Bad Newz Kennel, home of the dog fighting enterprise, was purchased by Vick and that the operation was funded almost exclusively by Vick.

Taylor claimed in his statement that Vick had attended several dogfights in Virginia and other states. Taylor said that the four split their winnings with Taylor spending most of his tie raising and training the pit bulls. He admitted that he had helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two dogs which did not do well in test fights.

According to prosecutors, a superceding indictment will be issued next month which could bring additional charges for Vick and the other two defendants.

In the July 17 indictment, it was alleged that Vick bred, raised and trained dogs at his home expressly for dog fighting. If convicted, Vick and the other two face up to six years in prison, a $350,000 fine and full restitution.

The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking recovery of any property constituting, or derived from, proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of these offenses.

According to the indictment, Vick and his co-defendants were involved in an ongoing animal fighting venture based out of a property owned by Vick located in Smithfield, Va., from early 2001 through on or about April 25.

From at least 2002, the defendants and others allegedly sponsored dog fights at the property, where participants and dogs traveled from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas, Alabama, and other states to participate. Generally, only those accompanying the opposing kennels and “Bad Newz Kennels’” associates attended the fights.

The indictment also alleges that the defendants participated in dog fights at locations other than the property in Smithfield. For these events, various members of “Bad Newz Kennels” would travel to other parts of Virginia and across state lines to participate in dog fights at other venues. The indictment alleges that the defendants and the “Bad Newz Kennels” dogs participated in dog fights in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and elsewhere in Virginia.

In the summer of 2002, at various times, Peace, Phillips, Taylor, and Vick allegedly performed “testing” sessions at the property in Smithfield. Following some of these sessions, the dogs that did not perform well were put to death by Peace, Phillips, or Taylor. Further, in April, an additional “testing” session was performed by Peace, Phillips, and Vick. Following that session, the indictment alleges that approximately eight dogs were put to death by hanging, drowning, and/or slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.

Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons in 2002, a deal now in jeopardy. The National Football League has barred Vick from joining the Falcons while the league conducts its own investigation into the allegations. The Falcons have begun practicing for the upcoming season.

Both Nike and Reebok have suspending their business dealings with Vick. Reebok has stopped selling his number 7 NFL jersey and Nike has stopped selling Vick products including shoes and sneakers. 7-30-07