Case Snapshot
Case ID: 11312
Classification: Fighting, Hanging, Drowning
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007

County: Surry

Charges: Felony Non-CTA
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 24 files available

Defendants/Suspects:
» Michael Dwayne Vick
» Purnell Peace
» Quanis Phillips
» Tony Taylor
» Oscar Allen

Case Updates: 68 update(s) available

A search warrant has been issued for a property in Surry County owned by NFL Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick does not live at the home. It is inhabited by Vick's nephew. Police said Vick does not spend much time on the property.

The search warrant was granted by the Surry County Circuit Court. A state task force went to the property searching for a person that they believed may be on the property, but the person was not Vick. Investigators would not reveal the name of the person they were searching for.

While investigators were at the property, they discovered three buildings behind the home that housed several barking dogs.

"When they had a chance to go to the site, they discovered animal neglect," Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin.

Franklin said that the dogs appeared to be hungry and forgotten.

Both state and county investigators were searching the property Wednesday afternoon. Several animal control trucks were also on the scene and dog barking was audible.

No further information about the warrant has been released at this time. More information will be available after the investigation is complete.

Early reports indicate that Vick was allegedly running a dog-fighting and cockfighting operation from the back of the home. The Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce was on the scene. Authorities report that Vick had been under investigation for several years for illegal animal fighting.


Case Updates

A judge sent a co-defendant in the Michael Vick dogfighting case back to jail Tuesday until a hearing later this month on whether the man violated his probation by lying to authorities, failing to follow orders and using illegal drugs.

Quanis L. Phillips, who was shot in the leg after a birthday bash for Vick at a Virginia Beach nightclub in June, is accused of lying when he told his probation officer that he did not speak with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback that night. His probation officer also says in court papers that Phillips failed to report run-ins with police, blew off a required mental health appointment and recently tested positive for marijuana use.

Phillips showed up for a probation revocation hearing Tuesday without an attorney. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson appointed a lawyer from the federal public defender's office to represent Phillips and rescheduled the hearing for March 28.

"Based upon your track record on supervised release, you will remain in custody until your hearing," Hudson told Phillips, who was led away by U.S. marshals.

In November 2007, Phillips was sentenced to 21 months in prison and three years of probation for participating in Vick's "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting operation in rural southeastern Virginia. Phillips was released from prison in February 2009. He has less than a year remaining on probation, but Hudson could return Phillips to prison for that time.

"Phillips' adjustment to supervision has been unsatisfactory," federal probation officer Rodney T. Lang said in court papers. " ... Phillips has failed to appreciate the seriousness of his situation and has not taken responsibility for his actions."

Lang said Vick told his probation officer that he had spoken to Phillips the night of the birthday party, directly contradicting what Phillips had told Lang. No arrests were made in the shooting of Phillips, which occurred after Vick had left the party.

Vick, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to dogfighting conspiracy, served 18 months of a 23-month sentence in prison and an additional two months on home confinement before resuming his NFL career.
Source: sify.com - Mar 17, 2011
Update posted on Mar 22, 2011 - 6:22PM 
Quanis L. Phillips, a former associate of Michael Vick who was also convicted of dogfighting charges in 2007, has been charged with violating his federal probation.

Phillips, a former associate of Vick, has been charged with violating his federal probation.

A report filed by Phillips' probation officer says that he has been shot in two separate incidents in the past year, including once at a birthday party for Vick in June of 2010 and in another incident the previous month.

In both incidents, Phillips reportedly denied having any contact with law enforcement, which violated terms of his probation. Phillips was also ordered to not have contact with Vick. He denied showing up at the birthday party for Vick in Virginia Beach, where he was shot in the aftermath. Police say they know who the shooter was in the incident but have not pressed any charges. Vick was not connected with the shooting.

Records filed with the court by Phillips' probation officer say that he was charged with reckless driving in Hampton in November of 2010. He told his probation officer, according to the report, that he had made contact with Hampton police but that he was not the driver in the incident.

Phillips failed to appear in court to answer the charges and was found guilty in absentia and had his license suspended and was ordered to pay a fine.

Phillips received a summons to appear before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson on March 15th.
Source: dailypress.com - Mar 1, 2011
Update posted on Mar 3, 2011 - 5:50PM 
It has been reported that the man shot outside a club which was hosting Michael Vick's 30th birthday party is Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in Vick's dogfighting case.

The Daily Press reported that Phillips was listed in good condition at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.

According to the newspaper, a spokesman for the Virginia State Police would not say if Vick was present at the club at the time of the shooting, which occurred around 2:10 a.m.

But the newspaper reported later Friday that Roddy White, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, was with Vick at the party and said they had left the club before the shooting occurred.

In his blog for The Daily Press, David Squires reports that the shooting occurred after Phillips showed up to the party -- despite Vick not being allowed to associate with any of the co-defendants of his case -- and got into an argument or altercation with Vick.

WTKR reports that witnesses to the incident are not cooperating with police.
Source: USA Today - Jun 25, 2010
Update posted on Jun 25, 2010 - 4:29PM 
A man was shot outside of a Virginia Beach club early this morning at a birthday party for Michael Vick.

Police have not identified the shooting victim, but a spokesman for Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital confirmed that Quanis Phillips " one of the co-defendants in Vick's 2007 federal dogfighting trial " was admitted early this morning and was listed in good condition. The spokesman would not discuss the nature of Phillips' injuries, and he said Phillips has declined to speak with media.

Several people who attended the party say that the shooting outside Guadalajara, in the 4600 block of Columbus Street in the Town Center of Virginia Beach, occurred at one of a handful of birthday celebrations for Vick last night. The party was advertised as a star-studded event via the Twitter feed of Vick's brother, Marcus.

Adam Bernstein, spokesman for Virginia Beach police, declined to comment on whether Vick was present at the club at the time of the shooting.

The shooting occurred around 2:10 a.m. Bernstein said a fight broke out as the club was closing, and one man was shot.

Vick, who starred at Warwick High School in Newport News, turns 30 years old on Saturday. He spent 21 months in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to charges related to a dogfighting ring operated out of a home he owned in Surry County. Phillips, who was a high school football teammate of Vick's, was also sentenced to 21 months after pleading guilty.
Source: Fox2now.com - Jun 25, 2010
Update posted on Jun 25, 2010 - 2:45PM 
After getting a second chance on life with a Monterey County family, a pit bull rescued from football player Michael Vick's dogfighting ring died Monday.

Red, an 8-year-old pit bull, spent the last year of his life with Amanda Mouisset, a pet behavioral specialist at SPCA for Monterey County, and her family.

"Red truly shows that dogs are amazing and resilient," said Beth Brookhouser, SPCA director of community outreach.

Red, she said, was born into a life that "no animal deserves."

When authorities discovered Vick's dogfighting operation in April 2007, they seized dozens of dogs. A federal indictment charged Vick in an inter-state dogfighting conspiracy.

The indictment's gruesome details included that some dogs were hanged, drowned and electrocuted.

Red, along with three other dogs from the ring, made his way to Monterey County, where Mouisset adopted him.

He worked with her, helping other dogs that were aggressive toward other pets.

"Many people have said to me how lucky Red is that we adopted him," Mouisset said in a statement, "but I have to disagree. We have been truly the lucky ones."

Last week, veterinarians working with Red found two cancerous tumors. Aggressive treatment would have extended his life a few months, Brookhouser said, so Mouisset opted against it.

He died surrounded by the family he adopted in Monterey County.

Vick was released from federal prison a year ago, after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months.
Source: thecalifornian.com - Apr 6, 2010
Update posted on Apr 6, 2010 - 3:02PM 
Quanis Phillips, who like Michael Vick pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy, was released from federal prison on February 20th, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Web site. Purnell Peace and Tony Taylor had previously been released. Only the suspended Atlanta Falcons star remains behind bars.

Phillips, Peace and Taylor still face state dogfighting charges in Surry County Circuit Court. Vick pleaded guilty to one state dogfighting count in November and was given a three-year suspended sentence.
Source: wsls.com - Feb 26, 2009
Update posted on Feb 26, 2009 - 6:11PM 
Michael Vick has been approved for release to home confinement, possibly in May, a government official told the Associated Press.

The NFL quarterback is serving a 23-month federal prison sentence in Leavenworth, Kan., for his role in a dogfighting operation based at a home that he owned in Virginia.

Vick's attorneys had indicated in bankruptcy court proceedings that they expected Vick to be transferred to a halfway house in Virginia for the final portion of his prison term.

But according to the AP, there's no bed space available so Vick instead could be released to his Virginia home as soon as May 21. Vick would be on electronic monitoring and would be permitted to leave home only for activities approved by his probation officer, the AP reported.

Vick had been scheduled to be released from prison in July.
Source: Washington Post - Feb 26, 2009
Update posted on Feb 26, 2009 - 3:29PM 
One of Michael Vick's two co-defendants in a dogfighting conspiracy case has been released - and another is being moved from a federal prison.

Bureau of Prisons records show that Purnell A. Peace, 37, was released from federal custody on Jan. 6. The other, Quanis L. Phillips, 30, is slated for release on Feb. 22. He is now being listed by the Bureau of Prisons Web site as being "in transit," though it's unclear where he's being moved to.

Both Peace and Phillips were charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and "to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture."

Suspended NFL quarterback Vick is slated to leave federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., on July 22. But his bankruptcy attorney said last week that Vick would be moved "any day" to serve out the remainder of his term in Newport News, his home city.
Source: Dailypress.com - Feb 3, 2009
Update posted on Feb 3, 2009 - 5:07PM 
Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick plans to plead guilty to state dogfighting charges in a move that could qualify him for an early release from federal prison.

Surry County Circuit Court administrator Sally Neblett says a hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 30 on a motion from Vick's lawyers to permit him to enter his plea via video conference from the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is serving a 23-month term on federal dogfighting charges.

Court papers filed in Surry County Circuit Court make it clear that Vick would not be eligible for any programs away from the prison if he has unadjudicated charges pending anywhere else, like those in Surry County.

If Vick pleads guilty to the state charges, it could mean he would be released from prison early and moved into a halfway house, and possibly expedite his return to football.

Vick will have three years of federal probation upon his release from prison. Surry Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter says the deal would tack on an additional year of probation in the county.
Source: WDBJ - Oct 21, 2008
Update posted on Oct 21, 2008 - 4:32PM 
A state prosecutor says Michael Vick's dogfighting case is on hold until he's out of prison.

The former NFL quarterback was scheduled to stand trial on June 27th on state charges, however the Surry County Commonwealth's attorney says it's not worth the expense to bring Vick and three other co-defendants across the country for the hearings.

Vick is currently serving a 23 month sentence in Kansas on federal charges.

Vick is scheduled to be released from prison July 20th, 2009.
Source: Charlotteville's News Plex - June 11, 2008
Update posted on Jun 11, 2008 - 6:07PM 
The man who ran Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting operation was released from federal prison Thursday morning.

Tony Taylor was released at 8:22 a.m. Thursday morning, according to Felicia Ponce, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

She characterized his release as full term, meaning he's completed his initial sentence and did not have to go to a halfway house, but is still under supervision.

Taylor received the lightest sentence of the four men primarily involved with the operation. It was his cooperation with federal officials that led to the conviction of Vick and two other co-defendants.

Taylor was convicted on charges of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and for sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Taylor served two months in the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa. for his role in the operation.

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison. He is currently incarcerated in Leavenworth, Kansas.

The other two defendants, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips, were sentenced to 18 months and 21 months respectively, and are also both currently incarcerated. Phillips received a slightly longer sentence because he failed a drug test while awaiting trial.
Source: WAVY - March 20, 2008
Update posted on Mar 21, 2008 - 1:25AM 
The Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney's office says the trial of suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick on state dogfighting charges has been continued.

Vick was scheduled to stand trial on April 2. No new date has been set, an assistant to Gerald Poindexter, the prosecutor, said Friday.

Officials had already continued the trials of co-defendants Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace, who are serving prison terms out of state.

Vick is serving a federal 23-month prison term in Leavenworth, Kansas. All three pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to run an interstate dogfighting operation on land owned by Vick.

The continuances are based on the logistics of transporting the men back to Virginia, which is the responsibility of the local prosecutor's office.

The trials are to be rescheduled on March 25.
Source: WSLS - March 14, 2008
Update posted on Mar 17, 2008 - 12:21PM 
Imprisoned Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has not yet been admitted to the Residential Drug Abuse Program at the federal prison camp in Leavenworth, Kansas, Lester Munson of ESPN.com is reporting.

Vick is hoping that enrolling in the program will be his ticket to early release: Using his positive test for marijuana prior to his sentencing as evidence that he needs help, Vick requested admission to the program, which allows prisoners who have successfully completed it to get out of prison early. If he is admitted to the program he could be out by January of 2009; without admission to the program the earliest he could get out is June 2009.

ESPN reports:

If Vick makes it into RDAP, he would attend 500 hours of classes, counseling and group therapy over a period of nine months, an average of 14 hours of class per week. The classes include occasional drug tests, and the program includes 12-step meetings.

After satisfying RDAP's requirements, Vick would be eligible for early release into the halfway house. If, then, he gains admission into RDAP next month, he could complete the program in January.


But while ESPN suggests that Vick could immediately return to the NFL as soon as he's allowed into a halfway house, that's just not a realistic option. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will likely wait at least a year after Vick's release to end his indefinite suspension. Vick may be out of prison as soon as the end of the 2008 season, but he won't play in 2009.
Source: AOL Sports - March 9, 2008
Update posted on Mar 9, 2008 - 12:26PM 
The fifth defendant in the Michael Vick dogfighting case was sentenced to three year's probation and fined $500 on Friday.

Oscar Allen, who sold a female pit bull named Jane to Vick's dogfighting operation in 2001, was the final defendant in the federal case to be sentenced. Vick, the suspended Atlanta Falcons star, was sentenced in December to 23 months in federal prison.

"Your case is in a clearly different class than the other defendants who've appeared before me," U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson said. "But for your cooperation the case would not have developed as smoothly and completely as it did.''

The 67-year-old Allen, from the Williamsburg area, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to aid in illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting the same charge to which Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty.

Allen faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but federal prosecutors recommended that he spend no time in prison because he cooperated with investigators, had no prior criminal record and was a minor player in Vick's dogfighting enterprise.

In his plea agreement, Allen admitted selling the dog to Bad Newz Kennels and traveling with Vick's associates to dog fights. He also advised the Vick crew on managing and caring for the dogs and helped conduct test fights to determine which dogs were good fighters.

Prosecutors said Allen didn't help kill the six to eight dogs that failed to perform well.

Allen was indicted separately from Vick and three co-defendants. Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach was sentenced to 18 months, Quanis Phillips of Atlanta to 21 months and Tony Taylor of Hampton, Va., to 2 months.
Source: TheStar - Jan 25, 2008
Update posted on Jan 28, 2008 - 2:36PM 
Suspended Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his guilty plea on charges related to dogfighting, plans to enter a drug treatment program that could reduce his time behind bars.

"Mr. Vick has been transferred from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons minimum security facility in Leavenworth, Kan.," his attorneys, Billy Martin and Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., said in a jointly issued statement Monday. "Mr. Vick hopes to participate in programs offered at that facility, including the Bureau of Prisons drug treatment program."

Vick, who failed a drug test while awaiting sentencing in the dogfighting case, is eligible for a federal drug treatment program known as the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). Inmates are involved in intensive treatment that lasts six to 12 months, with a minimum of 500 hours of treatment.

Upon completion of the program, the inmate's eligibility for early release based on previous criminal

convictions is determined. Vick did not have any previous convictions before his dogfighting case.

The RDAP accepts inmates, and they are eligible for early release even if they have not been convicted of drug-related offenses provided they meet a series of qualifications. Vick meets those requirements.

Animal rights activists were not happy that Vick may not serve his entire 23-month sentence.

"The drugs were completely irrelevant to the actual crime here," said John Goodwin, the Humane Society's deputy manager of animal fighting issues. "If this was drug rehab or a narcotics-related event, that's another thing, but the issue of killing these dogs is an entirely different matter."

According to Criminal Justice magazine, which is published by the American Bar Association, the program is known as the 500-hour Comprehensive RDAP. Some qualified offenders will be eligible for an early release benefit of up to 12 months. The Bureau of Prisons average is 8.5 months, usually coupled with an extended halfway house stay or home confinement.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Monday that Vick had been transferred to Leavenworth, but would not confirm that Vick would be entered into the drug program. Vick was moved from Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., where he has been since reporting to prison before being sentenced Dec. 10.

For now, Vick's prison number is 33765-183, and his projected release date is July 2009, which would be the full 23-month sentence.

An 8.5-month reduction on top of a possible reduction of 15 percent for good conduct means Vick could be released before the end of 2008. He faces an April 2 trial date in Virginia on state dogfighting charges.

An early prison release would allow Vick to apply sooner for reinstatement to the NFL. He is suspended indefinitely but is still on the Falcons' roster. A suspension by the NFL for the conviction and failed drug test is possible.

The Falcons refused to comment. They have attempted to distance themselves from the fallen quarterback, but because of severe salary cap ramifications have kept him on the roster. The team has sought to recover almost $20 million in salary and bonuses from Vick. The grievance is under review by Judge David Doty in Minneapolis.

From the outset, Martin has stated his goal was to get Vick back to his NFL career as soon as possible. Successful completion of the treatment program would give him a better chance of returning to the NFL in 2009 after missing two seasons.

"Mr. Vick looks forward to being reunited with his family upon completion of his sentence," Martin and Woodward said in the statement. "He is hopeful that following his release, he will have the opportunity to resume his career as a professional football player."
Source: Atlanta Journal Consitution - Jan 8, 2008
Update posted on Jan 8, 2008 - 12:14AM 
Twenty-two pit bulls rescued from former NFL star Michael Vick's dog fighting operation have left Virginia headed to an animal sanctuary in Utah.

A charter plane Wednesday flew the dogs from Richmond International Airport to the Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

In all, 48 pit bulls were seized from Vick's Surry County, Virginia home earlier this year. One dog was euthanized for medical reasons.
Source: Tampa Bay's 10 - Jan 2, 2008
Update posted on Jan 2, 2008 - 8:41PM 
A fourth defendant was sentenced Friday to two months in prison for his role in the dogfighting conspiracy that led to the downfall of NFL star Michael Vick.

Tony Taylor of Hampton was the first man to plead guilty in the case and the last to be sentenced. Vick, who financed the "Bad Newz Kennels" operation, was sentenced Monday to 23 months in prison. Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips of Atlanta previously were sentenced to 18 months and 21 months, respectively.

Prosecutor Michael Gill asked U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson to sentence Taylor only to probation because of his co-operation with the government.

"He was the most significant source of information in this case," Gill said.

While Hudson said Taylor was entitled to credit for his co-operation, he did not believe such a large disparity in sentencing between Taylor and the other defendants was appropriate.

"You were as much an abuser of animals as any other defendant in this case," Hudson said.
Source: The Star - Dec 14, 2007
Update posted on Dec 14, 2007 - 6:36PM 
Michael Vick, once one of the highest paid players in the National Football League, was sentenced to 23 months in prison for financing a dogfighting ring and helping to kill pit bulls that did not fight aggressively.

Vick's stunning downfall from NFL superstar to disgraced dogfighting defendant culminated Monday in a 90-minute sentencing hearing in federal court in Richmond, Virginia.

Vick was dressed in a black-and-white striped prison suit and apologized to his family and to the judge.

"You need to apologize also to the millions of young people who look up to you," U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson retorted.

"I am willing to deal with the consequences and accept responsibility for my actions," Vick continued, as about a dozen of his friends and family members looked on.

But Judge Hudson appeared to be unmoved. "I'm convinced it was not a momentary lack of judgment on your part. You were a full partner," he told Vick.

The judge added that he wasn't sure Vick had fully accepted reponsiblity for his actions. Supporters, including former baseball great Hank Aaron, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and the pastor of Vick's church sent letters while others called the judge's chambers. Video Watch how letters from VIPs didn't sway the judge

Vick, 27, had faced a maximum of five years in prison. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of 12 to 18 months.

Animal rights protesters lined up outside the courthouse. Some carried signs with photographs of dogs, while others read "Dogs deserve justice," and "Report dog fighters."

U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said after the hearing that the investigation "exposed a seamy side of our society." He added, "I hope Mr. Vick learned important lessons and that his admission of guilt will speed his rehabilitation."

Vick and three co-defendants still face trial on state dogfighting charges in Virginia. They are accused of torturing and killing dogs and promoting dogfights -- all felonies that carry five-year maximum sentences.

"This is a difficult day for Michael's family and for a lot of us, including many of our players and fans who have been emotionally invested in Michael over the years," said Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

"We sincerely hope that Michael will use this time to continue to focus his efforts on making positive changes in his life, and we wish him well in that regard," Blank said in a statement released by the team.

In his August plea agreement, Vick admitted bankrolling the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting operation on his 15-acre property in rural Surry County in southeastern Virginia.

Vick also admitted providing money for bets on the fights but said he never shared in any winnings.

According to court documents, dogs that failed to show enough fighting spirit or lost matches were executed. Some dogs died by electrocution and others by hanging or drowning.

Co-defendants told prosecutors that Vick assisted in executing the dogs, and that they "executed approximately eight dogs."

After initially denying any involvement, Vick acknowledged participating in killing the dogs in his plea agreement with prosecutors.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons star quarterback publicly apologized for his role in the dogfighting operation and unexpectedly turned himself in on November 19 to begin serving his prison term early. He has been held in a state jail in Warsaw, Virginia. Watch Vick's path from gridiron hero to jailhouse disgrace Video

Last month, Judge Hudson sentenced Purnell Peace, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, to 18 months in prison. Quanis Phillips, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 21 months.

A third co-defendant, Tony Taylor of Hampton, Virginia will be sentenced Friday. He was the first to plead guilty.

Peace, Phillips and Taylor entered plea agreements last summer under which they agreed to testify against Vick, prompting the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback to enter his own plea agreement a few days later.

Vick agreed to pay more than $928,000 for the care of some 54 pit bulls seized from his property.

Prosecutors also have disclosed the extent of Vick's financial ruin. According to court documents, the Atlanta Falcons are attempting to recoup bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million football contract, Vick is in default on a $1.3 million bank loan for a wine store, and two other banks have filed suits seeking repayment of a $4.5 million in loans and lines of credit.
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Vick's home in the Atlanta area is on the market for $4.5 million, prosecutors said in court papers. The Virginia home where the dogfighting operation was based, assessed at nearly $750,000, is on the auction block, according to reports published over the weekend.

Vick's attorneys last month requested a jury trial on the state charges. It is set to begin in April.
Source: CNN - Dec 10, 2007
Update posted on Dec 10, 2007 - 2:33PM 
Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is scheduled for an April 2, 2008 trial date on two state felony dogfighting charges.

Vick's lawyer, Lawrence Woodward, requested a jury trial during a brief session in Surry County Circuit Court on November 27. He did not issue a statement but had previously indicated he will fight the charges on the grounds that Vick can't be convicted twice of the same crime.

It was in August when Vick entered a guilty plea to one federal charge relating to a dogfighting conspiracy in the state of Virginia. Sentencing for that case is set for December 10, but Vick is already behind bars at a Warsaw, Virginia jail after surrendering November 19.

Vick faces up to five years in prison on the federal charge, while the two state charges -- beating, killing or causing dogs to fight one another, and engaging or promoting dogfighting -- are each punishable by up to five years in prison.

The court also set trial dates of March 5 for co-defendants Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace and a May 7 trial for Tony Taylor.
Source: WFSB.Com - Nov 29, 2007
Update posted on Nov 30, 2007 - 5:14PM 
On November 30, two of Michael Vick's co-defendants were sentenced to 18 months and 21 months in prison on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges.

Quanis Phillips of Atlanta and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach could have received up to five years in prison - the same maximum Vick faces when he is sentenced on December 10.

Peace, Phillips and Tony Taylor of Hampton pleaded guilty last summer and agreed to testify against Vick, prompting the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback to enter his own plea agreement a few days later. Taylor will be sentenced December 14.

"You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel," U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson told Phillips, who received the longer sentence.

Sentencing guidelines called for punishments of 12 to 18 months for Peace and 18 to 24 months for Phillips, who has a more extensive criminal record. Both men also were fined $250.00 and will be placed on three years' probation after their release.

Prosecutors recommended sentences at the low end of the range because of the co-defendants' cooperation. But with Vick lawyer Lawrence Woodward watching in the packed courtroom, Hudson said he felt sentences on the high end were appropriate because of the nature of the crime.

Hudson told Peace that he was concerned because a pre-sentencing report quoted Peace as saying he saw he nothing wrong with dogfighting.

"I am very sorry," Peace told the judge as he tried to fight back tears and family members in the courtroom softly wept.

Phillips declined an offer to address the court. His lawyer, Jeffrey Swartz, later told reporters Phillips was "nervous and decided not to speak," so he did the talking for him.

Swartz told the judge Phillips was remorseful and would be willing to "help address the issue of dogfighting" as part of his probation.

"That's going to have to flow from the heart, not an order from me," Hudson said.

According to court papers, Vick financed virtually the entire "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting enterprise at his 15-acre property in Surry County in rural southeastern Virginia and participated in executing several underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other means.

Vick publicly apologized for his role in the dogfighting operation and turned himself in November 19 to begin serving his prison term early. He is being held in a state jail in Warsaw, Virginia.
Source: The Canadian Press - Nov 30, 2007
Update posted on Nov 30, 2007 - 2:52PM 
Just one day after Michael Vick voluntarily started serving an anticipated prison sentence on dog fighting charges, prosecutors asked a judge to freeze nearly $1 million of the fallen football star's assets to pay for the care of the dogs taken from his Virginia property.

"The costs associated with seizing, maintaining and ultimately placing the pit bulls seized from 1915 Moonlight Rd. is significant, with a current estimate placing the total costs at approximately $928,073.04," U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg's office said in a motion filed Tuesday.

Though one of the pit bulls was euthanized after the raid, the filing notes that "the ongoing evaluation process has revealed that a significant number of these pit bulls may be eligible for adoption and placement in sanctuaries around the United States."

Various shelters in Virginia have been holding the dogs since the raid.

The filing cites a provision in Vick's plea agreement in the case, in which Vick agreed to pay "restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of all dogs" involved in the case, as named in a separate civil action.

"This provision is explicitly clear: Vick agreed to pay the full amount of costs associated with the care, euthanasia and long-term care of the dogs seized from his property on April 25, 2007," the prosecutors wrote.

But the care of the dogs isn't Vick's only financial burden, according to the court documents. The filing lists a number of pending matters involving Vick, including the Atlanta Falcons' move to recoup bonus money from his 2004 10-year, $130 million contract. The contract was the largest ever in NFL history.

The filing notes that in October, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the team, saying it could recover nearly $20 million in bonuses from Vick, though the matter is on appeal.
Source: ABC News - Nov 20, 2007
Update posted on Nov 21, 2007 - 12:30AM 
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick reportedly surrendered to U.S. Marshals today, three weeks before his sentencing date on a dogfighting conspiracy charge, and is being held in a regional jail.

Vick is scheduled to be sentenced on December 10, but turned himself in because he was anticipating a prison term, according to a court document. Vick could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Vick is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw until his sentencing, according to U.S. Marshals.

The order filed in U.S. District Court said "Vick has indicated his desire to voluntarily enter custody prior to his sentencing hearing. It appearing appropriate to do so, the U.S. Marshal is ordered to take custody of the Defendant immediately upon his surrender."
Source: CBS.com - Nov 19, 2007
Update posted on Nov 19, 2007 - 4:35PM 
Court documents show beleagured former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has fired one of the attorneys representing him in a dogfighting case.

Daniel Meachum, an attorney from Atlanta, will no longer represent the Newport News native who pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge.

Vick sent a letter October 26th cutting ties with Meachum.

His defense team includes Virginia Beach lawyers Larry Woodward and Thomas Shuttleworth and Washington, D.C., attorney Billy Martin.

Vick is due to be sentenced on a federal dogfighting charge on December 10th. A trial date will be set November 27th for local charges of dogfighting and cruelty to animals in Surry County.
Source: WSLS - Nov 9, 2007
Update posted on Nov 10, 2007 - 12:42AM 
A man who sold a champion pit bull to suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dogfighting operation pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal dogfighting charge.

Oscar Allen entered the plea to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to aid in illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting - the same charge to which Vick and his three co-defendants in the Bad Newz Kennels operation pleaded guilty. Vick is expected to be sentenced in December.

The 67-year-old Allen, who lives in the Williamsburg area, is to be sentenced Jan. 25, 2008. He faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years' supervised release. He was released with conditions, including a prohibition on buying or selling any dogs.

U.S. Attorney Michael Gill recommended that Allen spend no time in prison if he complies with conditions of the plea agreement because Allen cooperated with the investigation, had no prior criminal record and had limited involvement with Bad Newz Kennels.

But U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson said he isn't bound by that recommendation, and must take into account federal sentencing guidelines in the case.

As part of his plea, Allen admitted in a statement that he sold a female pit bull named Jane in 2001 to Bad Newz Kennels in rural Surry County, and traveled with Vick's dogfighting associates to Jane's fights.

In 2003, Bad Newz Kennels entered Jane in a "champion dog fight" - meaning she was fighting for her third consecutive win. Jane won the "champion" purse in a fight over another female pit bull. The winning purse is not known, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

Allen also is accused of advising Vick and his co-defendants on managing and caring for pit bulls used in the rural Surry County dogfighting operation, and helping Vick and his associates pit their dogs against each other to determine which ones were good fighters, according to the document, filed by the U.S. attorney's office.
Source: WSLS - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 25, 2007 - 1:43AM 
The prosecutor in the Surry Co. Michael Vick dog-fighting case may have a connection to the Vick family.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter represented Vick's father in a civil case four years ago.

One of Vick's attorneys says he has concern about Poindexter prosecuting the case. However, it's unknown if Vick's legal team will ask that Poindexter be removed from the case.
Source: WVEC - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 25, 2007 - 12:21AM 
A man accused of selling a pit bull to suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dogfighting operation and sponsoring a pit bull in dogfights was due in federal court Wednesday to enter a plea.

Suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick and three co-defendants already have pleaded guilty in the case.

Oscar Allen is charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to aid in illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting -- the same charge to which Vick and his three co-defendants in the Bad Newz Kennels operation pleaded guilty. Vick is expected to be sentenced in December.

Allen, also known as "Virginia O," was to appear at a bond hearing before his scheduled plea before U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, who has handled the Vick case. A plea agreement had not been filed with the clerk's office.

Gerald Zerkin, a federal public defender, was to represent Allen. He was on his way to court and could not be reached for comment, his office said.

In documents filed at U.S. District Court, prosecutors allege that Allen sold a female pit bull named Jane in 2001 to Bad Newz Kennels, and traveled with Vick's dogfighting associates to Jane's fights.

Allen also is accused of advising Vick and his co-defendants on managing and caring for pit bulls used in the Surry County dogfighting operation, and helping Vick and his associates pit their dogs against each other to determine which ones were good fighters, according to the document, filed by the U.S. attorney's office.

Allen didn't help kill the six to eight dogs that failed to perform well, prosecutors said.
Source: CNN - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 24, 2007 - 10:18PM 
All but one of the dogs seized in the Michael Vick dog fighting case will be placed with families or put in a "sanctuary," where they will interact with people to overcome their fear and lack of socialization, according to court order filed Monday.

Michael Vick pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy charges related to dog fighting.

One of the 49 seized dogs "has a history biting humans" and will be euthanized, according to a motion filed in Virginia in U.S. District Court.

U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said the dog -- identified as number 2621 -- "exhibited intense aggression to humans to the point where the evaluation could not safely be completed."

The recommendation came more than a month after the court ordered the dogs evaluated by U.S. Department of Agriculture contractors.

Last month a team of animal behavior experts selected by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals analyzed the dogs, and then recommended whether they were best suited with families, trained as police dogs, placed in a sanctuary or euthanized.

Federal authorities anticipate recommending a guardian be appointed to oversee the placement of the other dogs.

Vick pleaded guilty in August to federal conspiracy charges related to dog fighting on his property in Surry County, Virginia. He is to be sentenced on the federal charges on December 10.

Last month, a federal judge tightened restrictions on Vick after he tested positive for marijuana use. The suspended Atlanta Falcons player must submit to any method of drug testing required by the pretrial services officer or the supervising officer.

He must participate in substance abuse therapy and mental health counseling if the pretrial services officer or supervising officer orders that.
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Vick was also ordered to stay home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. He is to be electronically monitored during that time.

Vick also faces state charges related to dog fighting. He will be arraigned on state charges on October 3 in a Virginia court
Source: CNN - Oct 2, 2007
Update posted on Oct 2, 2007 - 12:20AM 
One day after a state grand jury indicted Michael Vick on dogfighting-related charges, the federal judge who's overseeing his federal case imposed new restrictions on the football star after learning that he failed a drug test earlier this month.

The Associated Press says Vick, an employee of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, submitted a urine sample on Sept. 13 that tested positive for marijuana. As a result, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered him to submit to random drug tests and stay at home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Source: USA Today - Sept 26, 2007
Update posted on Oct 2, 2007 - 12:18AM 
A Virginia grand jury indicted suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on state dogfighting charges Tuesday, prosecutors announced.

Michael Vick faces sentencing on federal charges in December.

The grand jury brought two charges against Vick: one count of killing dogs and one of promoting dogfights. In a plea agreement on federal charges, the quarterback has admitted to bankrolling a dogfighting operation from his home in Surry County, Virginia.

Arraignment for Vick is scheduled for October 3.

Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter said earlier he would present more than 10 state bills of indictment against Vick. Vick's three co-defendants also will be named.

Poindexter defended his decision to bring more charges against the four because the federal case didn't address crimes committed in Surry County.

"Crime was committed here. How do you ignore it?" Poindexter said to reporters outside the grand jury courtroom. "Not piling on anybody, just looking out for Surry County."

The grand jury is composed of six people, two black males, two black females and two white females.

The grand jury was meeting at the Sussex County courthouse because the Surry County courthouse is undergoing renovations.

Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty in August to a federal conspiracy charge. He faces sentencing on December 10 in U.S. District Court in Richmond.

As part of the federal deal, Vick pleaded guilty to the charge he traveled across state lines to engage in unlawful activities and sponsor a dog in a dogfighting contest.
Source: CNN - Sept 25, 2007
Update posted on Sep 25, 2007 - 1:16PM 
Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter said Monday night that he will "present a host of bills of indictment" Tuesday to a Surry County grand jury regarding dogfighting at the Virginia property owned by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick and three co-defendents have already entered plea agreements in federal court on felony charges related to dogfighting and are awaiting sentencing.

"Most of the matters that I'm presenting have already been admitted in sworn statements authored by the defendants in the federal proceedings," Poindexter said during a interview with told the Associate Press.

Poindexter also told the AP that he couldn't detail the exact indictments he will pursue, but said the local investigation and the federal investigation largely focused on different crimes.

"The killing of dogs is one of those statutory prohibitions," Poindexter said. "Dogfighting is a crime, the mistreatment of animals is a crime, so you could take your pick, or take them all."

Poindexter then ended the interview by saying: "I don't have anything else to say about it. I'm through with it. Hopefully it's coming to an end."

Poindexter did not return phone calls from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution both Monday afternoon and night. However, Poindexter told the AJC last week that while he could seek indictments at Tuesday's grand jury, he would likely wait until the final outcome of the federal case against Vick and his co-defendents.

Vick, his co-defendants and lawyers will not attend the closed proceeding, according to the AP.

Vick faces up to five years in federal prison and has been indefinitely suspended by the NFL after entering a plea agreement in federal court in Richmond last month. In his written plea, Vick admitted to bankrolling the dogfighting operation Bad Newz Kennels, helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings, but gave his three co-defendants all those proceeds.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution - Sept 24, 2007
Update posted on Sep 25, 2007 - 12:16PM 
Inside the courtroom, the penultimate chapter in an American passion play unfolded.

But on East Main St. in the Virginia capital, the Michael Vick drama brought out a strange brew of puppies, prayer and the power of sports celebrity in this country.

Some wore the Atlanta Falcons No. 7 jersey of the disgraced quarterback, a church group sang hymns and shouted that Michael had found Jesus, and when Vick strode into the courthouse they squealed as if a rock star had arrived and shouted "Keep your head up, Mike.''

Further down the block, behind the same yellow police barrier, but separated from his supporters, protesters held pit bull puppies, hoisted signs condemning animal cruelty and booed lustily when he alighted from his Range Rover.

Vick, the onetime quarterback who could always spot a tiny hole in the defence downfield, looked straight ahead and acknowledged neither those praying for him or damning him.

This story has become much larger than a quarterback and cruelty to dogs, and has dominated talk radio and cable news in this country all summer long.

Vick formally pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges and will be sentenced Dec. 10 by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson.

Federal guidelines stipulate a 12- to 18-month sentence, but Hudson is not required to follow them and could jail Vick for up to five years.

In fact the judge, a dog owner himself, warned Vick he was taking his chances and would have to live with whatever decision he makes.

Later, Vick, 27, apologized, admitted he had to grow up and said he had found Jesus.

"I want to apologize for all the things I have done and have allowed to happen,'' he said in a statement at a Richmond hotel.

"I am ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least.''

He said dog fighting was "a terrible thing and I do reject it.''

This case has pulled back the curtain on the sordid underground practice of dogfighting in the U.S., but his supporters believe he has been demonized well beyond the crime committed.

It took no great powers of observation to see that, yesterday morning, those shouting support were almost universally black, those shouting him down were overwhelmingly white.

Vilma Liverman, wearing a Vick jersey and holding a sign which read "Free Michael Vick,'' drove almost two hours from Chesapeake, Va., to support the suspended quarterback with her 14-year-old daughter, Fikera Winfield, who idolizes him.

"What about the rapists and murders and the child molesters out there?'' she asked.

"The child molesters get out of jail in six months, but here they've taken away Michael's career.

"They're trying to tell us that dogs are better than human beings.''

In fact God, according to a number of supporters, wants to forgive Vick.

A busload of church supporters from Norfolk, Va., arrived toting signs which read, "In Trouble? Try Jesus,'' and "Michael Says, Give Your Life to Christ.''

Then they broke into song, serenading the street with "God Today Is Mine.''

On the other side, protesters depended on the power of the puppy.

Jeff Little, a dog breeder, drove almost 100 kilometres with two six-week old pit bulls.

"Whether it was Michael Vick or you, this is a wrong and there is no excuse for this,'' he said.

Sid Snyder' seven month-old part pit bull, Belle, was walked in front of the courthouse with a sign around her neck.

"I am sweet and affectionate," Belle claimed, as she jumped up to lick well-wishers.

"Belle is a sweet dog,'' Snyder said. "This is the type of dog that would have been put down at the Bad Newz Kennel.''

In his written plea agreement last Friday, Vick admitted to providing most of the money for the fight training and gambling operation on his property in Surry County, Va.

His agreement also made it clear he was at least present when six to eight dogs were killed after fighting poorly.

"As they say, the best disinfectant is sunshine,'' said Richmond resident Chris Martin of to People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). "It's like the Mafia. This has been happening underground.''

But on morning radio here, callers jammed the lines supporting Vick.

One female postal worker told the station she was looking for a bootleg version of his football jersey.

"And I'm going to wear it until the day I die,'' she said.
Source: Toronto Star - Aug 28, 2007
Update posted on Aug 29, 2007 - 1:04AM 
Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick formally entered a guilty plea to one federal felony charge relating to a dog-fighting conspiracy in Virginia.

Vick signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors last week and appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson on August 27, 2007 to make it official.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 10.

Under terms of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend sentencing at the low end of the guideline range -- reportedly from 12 to 18 months. However, Hudson is under no obligation to follow the guideline and can elect to sentence Vick to a maximum of five years in prison.

Following last week's plea announcement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imposed an indefinite suspension on Vick.

The summary of facts accompanying the plea agreement said Vick was aware four dogs were killed in 2002 and six to eight dogs were killed this past April as a result of the "collective efforts" of Vick and two of his co-defendants.

According to the agreement, Vick and his co-defendants -- Tony Taylor, Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace -- "rolled" or "tested" Bad Newz Kennels dogs in 2002 by putting them through fighting sessions to determine which ones were good fighters. Those that did not perform well were reportedly executed.

Regarding the gambling allegations, the summary said Vick did not gamble "by placing side bets on any of the fights" and did not receive any of the proceeds from the purses. However, the summary also states that most of the Bad Newz Kennels' operation and gambling monies were provided by Vick, and the quarterback and his three co-defendants claimed purses when their dogs won fights.

Vick, as part of the plea bargain, has also agreed to aid the government by testifying on its behalf at any grand juries, trials or other proceedings.
Source: The Sports Network - Aug 27, 2007
Update posted on Aug 28, 2007 - 1:36AM 
Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Michael Vick on August 24 that he is suspended indefinitely without pay from the National Football League, effective immediately.

Following are excerpts from Commissioner Goodell's letter to Vick:

"Your admitted conduct was not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible. Your team, the NFL, and NFL fans have all been hurt by your actions."

"Your plea agreement and the plea agreements of your co-defendants also demonstrate your significant involvement in illegal gambling. Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL Player Contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

"You have engaged in conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL and have violated the league's Personal Conduct Policy."

"I will review the status of your suspension following the conclusion of the legal proceedings. As part of that review, I will take into account a number of factors, including the resolution of any other charges that may be brought against you, whether in Surry County, Virginia, or other jurisdictions, your conduct going forward, the specifics of the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson and any related findings he might make, and the extent to which you are truthful and cooperative with law enforcement and league staff who are investigating these matters."

"I have advised the Falcons that, with my decision today, they are no longer prohibited from acting and are now free to assert any claims or remedies available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or your NFL Player Contract."
Source: NFL.com - Aug 24, 2007
Update posted on Aug 24, 2007 - 9:14PM 
Atlanta Falcons quarterback and Hampton Roads native Michael Vick has accepted a plea deal and a likely prison sentence to avoid additional federal charges related to a professional dogfighting operation, according to one of Vick's attorneys.

Vick is going to enter a guilty plea to the felony conspiracy charge next Monday at 10:30 a.m., said Lawrence Woodward, one of Vick's defense attorneys.

"Mike's accepting full responsibility," Woodward said. "He's going to do everything he can personally and professionally to make this situation right."

Vick's decision came after his last two co-defendants pleaded guilty Friday and agreed in deals with prosecutors to testify against Vick if they were called to do so at trial. A third co-defendant pleaded guilty in July under similar conditions.

With his plea deal, Vick is expected to avoid more serious charges related to a large dogfighting venture called "Bad Newz Kennels" that he is accused of almost entirely funding from 2001 to 2007.

The deal, in its form last week, was expected to include a recommendation from prosecutors that Vick serve at least a year in prison, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. The judge will have the final say in sentencing.

It is unclear how the plea deal will affect Vick's NFL career. League Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the NFL was still working on its own review of the case and is closely monitoring talks between Vick's lawyers and prosecutors.

"We're going to do what we always said we were going to do, which is rely on the facts," Goodell said. "If there is some type of a plea agreement, then we will obviously take the time to understand what that plea is and we'll see how it fits into our personal conduct (policy)."

Players and coaches began reacting to a potential plea deal by Vick when the possibility surfaced last week. Redskins coach and team president Joe Gibbs, a friend of Falcons owner Arthur Blank , said the case has been tough "for everybody in the NFL."

"Michael Vick's one of the premier players in the league and no one wanted this to happen," said Gibbs, who owned a small piece of the Falcons before he returned to the Redskins in 2004.

Redskins defensive back David Macklin, a close friend of Vick's who played against him growing up in Newport News, said last week that the case has been hard on Vick.

"We're keeping him in our prayers," Macklin said. "It's a situation he's going to be able to get through. He's going to overcome. We're behind him 100 percent. I've been able to speak with him and he's realizing a lot of things right now. We'll just see how it goes."

At Virginia Tech, where Vick starred in college, his former coaches said last week they didn't want to talk about the case until it was over.

"Nobody condones any of that stuff, if it's true, but when somebody asks me about Michael, I think about being front-row center for a highlight show," said Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. "I think about him playing pitch and catch with my 6-year-old son at that time before practice. That stuff is the highlight of my son's life. Now his heart is breaking."

Said head coach Frank Beamer: "Michael is one of ours, and we want the best for him. But I'm going to wait until I hear the final word."

The NFL's recently toughened player conduct policy empowers Goodell to fine, suspend or impose a lifetime ban on a player for criminal behavior. He's levied harsh penalties on players even for being arrested.

Goodell suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for the 2007 season after he was arrested five times since being drafted in 2005.

In another move, Goodell suspended Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals for eight games this year after a 14-month span in which he was arrested four times and served a previous two-game suspension for his behavior.

Tank Johnson , who served jail time for violating probation related to a gun charge, was also suspended for eight games this year. Johnson's team, the Chicago Bears, released the defensive tackle in June after he was pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk.

Goodell banned Vick from attending the Falcons' training camp after the star quarterback was indicted in July with his three co-defendants. An NFL spokesman said Goodell would withhold further action until the league had completed its review.

In a July interview with SI.com, Goodell said Vick had assured him he was not involved in dogfighting.

"His comments to me were very consistent with what he has said publicly: That he does not have any interest in that, that it wasn't happening at his property, and that was his discussion," Goodell said. "And I was very clear with him that if it's happening on your property, it's your responsibility."

A hearing date is expected to be set soon for a judge to accept Vick's deal. It could be months before he receives his sentence. Sentencing dates of Nov. 30 and Dec. 14 have been set for his co-defendants.

Vick, 27, Quanis L. Phillips, 28, Purnell Peace, 35, and Tony Taylor, 34, are accused of starting the pit bull fighting venture in early 2001, the spring Vick became the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft after his final season at Virginia Tech.

In May of that year, Taylor found a location in rural Surry County that looked suitable for housing and training the dogs, and Vick bought the property, at 1915 Moonlight Road, in June, according to a summary of facts that Taylor signed for his plea deal, indicating that he agreed the information was accurate.

Peace joined the operation later that year, and the men began buying dogs and puppies, Taylor's summary said. In 2002, according to the indictment, the group put a name to the outfit: "Bad Newz Kennels."

A source close to the case said prosecutors have a photograph of Vick and his co-defendants sporting that name on headbands and shirts.

The dog "testing" sessions began in summer 2002, followed by the first executions, Taylor's summary said. All four defendants, Vick included, put some of their dogs through fights to determine which ones were good fighters, the summary said.

According to Taylor's summary, Peace and Phillips, a childhood friend of Vick's, each shot at least one dog after those testing sessions. Taylor shot one and electrocuted another, according to his summary.

When the men fought their dogs in real matches, they placed bets with the competing dog's owner, and the purses rose through the years, according to the indictment and the signed fact summaries from Peace, Phillips and Taylor.

One of the earliest fights, in spring 2002, involved wagers of $500 with a dog owner from North Carolina. In March 2003, Peace and Vick sponsored a fight with bets of $13,000 per side, according to the indictment.

In April 2007, Vick, Peace and Phillips executed about eight dogs that performed poorly in another testing session, according to the fact summaries of Peace and Phillips. The summaries say Vick took part in the executions, done by hanging and drowning.

According to his co-defendants, Vick almost exclusively funded the operation and the gambling money. Peace, in his fact summary, said Vick paid him about $3,000 a month to be the dogs' primary caretaker.
Source: The Roanoke Times - Aug 20, 2007
Update posted on Aug 20, 2007 - 2:32PM 
Two co-defendants of Michael Vick say the NFL star helped execute dogs that didn't fight well, according to federal court documents.

The court papers, filed as Quanis Phillips, 28, and Purnell Peace, 35, pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges Friday, said all three men "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions" in April of this year by methods such as hanging and drowning.

Peace, of Virginia Beach, and Phillips, of Atlanta, said the money behind the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation, based on property Vick owns in Virginia, came "almost exclusively" from the Atlanta Falcons star.

According to reports, federal prosecutors have offered Vick a plea deal that would require him to spend at least one year in prison on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges.

If Vick rejects the deal, he will likely face an additional charge under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.

A conviction under that charge could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The new charge may be considered by a grand jury that convenes on Monday.
Source: CNN.com - Aug 17, 2007
Update posted on Aug 19, 2007 - 7:05PM 
Two of Michael Vick's alleged cohorts in a dogfighting enterprise entered guilty pleas Friday, leaving the Atlanta Falcons quarterback on his own to cut a deal or face trial on federal charges.

With his NFL career in jeopardy and a superseding indictment adding more charges in the works, Vick and his lawyers have been talking with federal prosecutors about a possible plea agreement.

But there was no indication Friday at U.S. District Court that Vick would enter a plea before any new charges are filed, perhaps as early as next week.

Sentencing for the two was scheduled for Nov. 30. Vick has been barred from training camp by the NFL and is scheduled to stand trial November 26.

Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta entered plea agreements and joined another defendant who previously changed his plea to guilty. The agreements require the three to cooperate in the government's case against Vick.

Peace and Phillips were charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. Tony Taylor of Hampton pleaded guilty last month and will be sentenced December 14. Vick faces the same charges.

"Did you conspire with these folks to sponsor a dogfighting venture?" U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson asked Peace.

He replied, "Yes, sir."

The offenses are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but the exact sentence will be based largely on federal sentencing guidelines. Hudson told Peace and Phillips that certain elements of their offenses will increase their sentencing ranges.

"There are aggravating circumstances in this case, there's no doubt about it," he told Phillips.

While Peace was freed, Hudson found that Phillips violated the terms of his release by failing a drug test and ordered him jailed. Phillips also is on probation for a drug conviction in Atlanta, and the guilty plea could mean more jail time in that case, Hudson said.
Source: WAVY TV - Aug 17, 2007
Update posted on Aug 17, 2007 - 12:49PM 
Michael Vick's lawyers have advised him to accept a plea deal from federal prosecutors in his dogfighting case, a person with direct knowledge of the case told The New York Times.

Vick has until 9 am on Friday, August 17, 2007 to accept the deal, the person said. The deal would most likely come with a recommendation from prosecutors that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback be sentenced to 1-2 years in prison. If Vick decides not to take the deal, prosecutors plan on bringing more charges against him.
Source: Boston.Com News - August 17, 2007
Update posted on Aug 17, 2007 - 5:51AM 
Michael Vick's remaining two co-defendants in a federal dogfighting case are scheduled to enter plea agreements this week.

Purnell Peace will appear in federal court in Richmond on Thursday and Quanis Phillips will appear in federal court in Richmond on Friday.

Another of Vick's original co-defendants, Tony Taylor, pleaded guilty July 30 to his role in a dogfighting conspiracy he says was financed almost entirely by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.

As part of a plea agreement, Tony Taylor pledged to fully cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Vick, Peace and Phillips, who are accused of running an interstate dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" on Vick's property in rural Surry County.

Calls to Peace's and Phillips' attorneys were not immediately returned.

Collins Spencer The Third is a spokesman for Vick's defense team. He says the lawyers were surprised by the plea deals.
Source: WAVY - Aug 13, 2007
Update posted on Aug 13, 2007 - 8:27PM 
One of Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's co-defendants in the federal dog fighting case reversed himself and pleaded guilty today as part of a deal with prosecutors, a troubling sign for Vick's legal defense.

Tony Taylor, who along with Vick pleaded not guilty to the charges just four days ago, agreed this morning to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their case against Vick and two other co-defendants, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips.

"It is not good news for Vick," said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in Constitutional law and the federal courts. "(Taylor) has all these incentives to cooperate fully with the government in order to reduce his possible exposure to a sentence and a fine."

Judge Henry E. Hudson set Taylor's sentencing date for Dec. 14. Vick, Peace and Phillips' trial date is still set for Nov. 26 before Hudson. Prosecutors could recommend a lighter sentence for Taylor depending on how cooperative he is, legal experts said, and that is why the court set Taylor's sentencing for a date after the trial.

"You have to give up everything" as part of a plea deal, said David P. Baugh, a former federal prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney who has represented clients before Hudson. "There are no non-snitching plea agreements. He probably has already been debriefed."

Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va., said little in court during his 15-minute long hearing this morning. He and his attorney, Stephen A. Hudgins, declined to comment as they left the courthouse. A spokesman for Vick also declined to comment.

A federal grand jury indicted Taylor, Vick and the two others on a single count of conspiring to violate three laws: the interstate travel act by crossing state lines to engage in illegal gambling; sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture; and buying, transporting and receiving dogs for animal fighting.

Taylor pleaded guilty this morning to conspiring to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. Taylor confirmed during the hearing this morning that he pleaded guilty without a promise of a lighter sentence. He faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

The 18-page indictment says Taylor, Vick and the others set up a business called "Bad Newz Kennels" in rural Surry County, Va. to raise and train pit bulls for dogfights. The men gambled on the fights in Virginia and several other states, the indictment says.

Federal prosecutors revealed additional details about their case in a 13-page statement of facts they filed with Taylor's plea agreement today. The statement says Vick almost exclusively funded the dog-fighting operation and gambling monies. It also says the proceeds from their gambling wins were split by Taylor, Phillips and Peace.

Taylor used a large portion of his money for living expenses, the statement says, because he devoted his time to caring for and training the pit bulls. The gambling wins also were funneled back into the dog fighting operation, to pay for food, medicine and supplies, according federal prosecutors. Taylor left the business after a disagreement with Phillips and others in September of 2004, according to the statement of facts.

At Vick and Taylor's arraignment Thursday, federal prosecutors announced they would be seeking a "superceding" indictment before the end of August, meaning they could identify additional charges or defendants in the case. Coincidentally or not, Taylor's plea hearing showed up on Hudson's schedule the following day.

"There certainly looks like there might be some linkage," Tobias said. "He may have been afraid of what might be in that superceding indictment."

Taylor played a key role in the operation in May of 2001, federal prosecutors say, by identifying the Surry County property as a suitable location for housing and training the dogs. Vick bought the property the following month. In June of 2002, Taylor signed the articles of incorporation for a business based at that property called MV7 LLC, Vick's initials and jersey number.

After they set up their business, the four men boldly used shirts and headbands to represent and promote their dog fighting operation, the indictment says.

At various times, the men executed dogs they didn't think would fight well by gruesome means, including hanging and drowning, according to federal prosecutors. In 2002, for example, Taylor executed at least two dogs by shooting one and electrocuting the other, the indictment says.

Vick figures prominently in the indictment. It says the ex-Virginia Tech football star, who now has a $130 million contract with the Falcons, sponsored dogs in fights with purses as low as $3,000, according to the indictment.

Authorities said they found numerous dog fighting-related items on his property in Surry County, including sheds and kennels, treadmills used to condition dogs and a "break" stick used to pry open a dog's mouth during fights. They also found 54 pit bulls on Vick's property, some of which had scars and other injuries they said were consistent with dogfights.

Vick received more bad news over the last several days. Last week, Nike suspended Vick's endorsement contract without pay and Reebok halted sales of jerseys bearing his name.
Source: Atlanta Journal Consitution - July 30, 2007
Update posted on Jul 30, 2007 - 1:34PM 
One of the men facing federal dogfighting charges along with Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is apparently discussing a plea deal with federal prosecutors, which could spell bad news for Vick.

Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va., has a plea-agreement hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday in the U.S. District Court in Richmond before Judge Henry E. Hudson. Meanwhile, court records show a sealed order signed by Hudson was issued in the case Friday.

The plea hearing could mean that Taylor, who pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday, has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Vick and the two other co-defendants in his case also pleaded not guilty Thursday.

"This could be very bad news for Vick," said Steven D. Benjamin, a veteran criminal defense attorney from Richmond who has represented many clients before Hudson. "If he is pleading guilty, he is cooperating with the government."

Taylor could get a lighter sentence through a plea deal.

"Whoever is the first in line gets the best deal," said Michael Morchower, a former federal prosecutor and now a Richmond-based criminal defense attorney who has also represented defendants before Hudson.

"That's the problem with codefendants. They are going to want to save themselves. And the government wants cooperation. And the person who cooperates first gets the biggest reward."

Taylor's attorney could not be reached for comment Friday night. And a spokesman for Vick did not respond to a telephone call for comment.

At Taylor and Vick's arraignment Thursday, federal prosecutors announced they would seek a "superceding" indictment in the case before the end of August, which could mean additional charges and defendants.

A federal grand jury this month indicted Vick and Taylor and their two co-defendants - Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips - on a single count of conspiracy relating to dogfighting.

They face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted on the charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities. If convicted of another alleged offense - conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal-fighting venture - they could face up to one year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

The indictment says Vick and the others set up a business called "Bad Newz Kennels" to raise and train pit bulls for fighting. They staged the fights, according to federal prosecutors, in Smithfield, Va., on property Vick bought in June 2001. Prosecutors say Vick and his friends crossed state lines to participate in dogfights in several other states.

For their case, prosecutors are relying on four unnamed cooperating witnesses mentioned in the indictment. Vick's name also is mentioned repeatedly in the document. For example, the indictment says Vick, Peace and Phillips executed approximately eight dogs they determined not to be good fighters by hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground. The indictment also says Vick and the others bet on the dogfights. And it details how Vick retrieved a book bag containing $23,000 in cash at one point to pay a winning opponent.

The case stems from a drug investigation involving Vick's cousin - Davon Boddie - on Vick's rural property in Surry County, Va. Boddie listed the property as his address after being arrested on a drug charge in April. After they investigated the property, authorities said they found kennels, treadmills, a "rape stand" used to restrain aggressive female dogs during breeding, and 54 pit bulls, some with scars and injuries officials said are consistent with dog fighting.

During an interview in April, Vick blamed family for the mistreated dogs but has declined comment since then. But his attorney read a statement after the arraignment Thursday, proclaiming his innocence.

"Today you all either heard or saw Michael take the first step toward proving his innocence," his attorney Billy Martin said Thursday. "We intend to prove Mike's innocence at trial. We are conducting our own investigation. ... And we look forward to the opportunity to being able to walk inside this courtroom and saying to the world that Michael Vick is innocent."
Source: Atlanta Journal Consitution - July 27, 2007
Update posted on Jul 27, 2007 - 11:08PM 
Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Michael Vick on Friday, while Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.

Facing protests from animal-rights groups, Nike announced it was suspending Vick's endorsement deal without pay, as well as halting sales of Vick-related shoes and other products at its retail stores.

Reebok, the official uniform supplier of the NFL, said it would stop selling Vick's replica jersey at retail stores and through its Web site.

The moves came one day after the Atlanta Falcons quarterback pleaded not guilty to federal dogfighting charges in Richmond, Va.

"Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick, and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent," Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said in a statement.

Since Vick has not been convicted of any crime, Nike left open the door to resume its business relationship with the star player if he's acquitted.

"We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen in the United States," according to the statement. "Therefore, we have not terminated our relationship."

Vick is barred from the Falcons' training camp while the league investigates his actions for possible violations of its new personal conduct policy.

Although Reebok does not have a business relationship with Vick, the Massachusetts-based company serves as the official supplier of apparel and equipment to all 32 NFL teams. Through that deal, it holds the coveted rights to sell jerseys at the retail level.

"We just find the allegations very upsetting and very disturbing," Reebok spokeswoman Denise Kaigler said. "While this is just the beginning of the legal process and we know that it has to have time to run its course, we felt that making this decision now was important and the right things to do."

Reebok said it also was willing to take back any unsold Vick jerseys that are returned by retail outlets.

Kaigler said she already had received numerous e-mails in support of the decision. Even though numerous NFL players have run afoul of the law, this is the first time Reebok has stopped sales of an individual jersey.

"The number of e-mails and statements we're getting from consumers was pretty telling about how disturbing people find these allegations to be," Kaigler said.
Source: Fox Sports - July 27, 2007
Update posted on Jul 27, 2007 - 7:09PM 
Michael Vick pleaded not guilty to federal dogfighting charges today and was released conditionally without bond until his trial in November.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others entered their pleas in federal court in Richmond to conspiracy charges involving competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

Federal prosecutors allege the dogfighting operation operated on Vick's property in Surry County.

U.S. Magistrate Dennis Dohnal released the four defendants without bond.

He said the judicial system is grounded on the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty "no matter how heinous the allegations may be."
Source: WAVY TV - Jul 26, 2007
Update posted on Jul 26, 2007 - 5:31PM 
Michael Vick was ordered by commissioner Roger Goodell today to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons' training camp until the league reviews the dogfighting charges against him.

"While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy," Goodell said in a letter to the quarterback.

The NFL said Vick would still get his preseason pay and Goodell told the Falcons to withhold any disciplinary action of their own until the league's review was completed.

Goodell told Vick the league would complete its review quickly and that he expected full cooperation. The review is expected to involve conversations with federal law enforcement officials so the NFL can determine the strength of the case against Vick.
Source: Comcast News - Jul 23, 2007
Update posted on Jul 23, 2007 - 11:01PM 
Michael Vick will appear for a hearing at 3:30 p.m. on July 26, 2007 at the Federal Courthouse in Richmond, followed at 4:00 p.m. by his arraignment in the same court.
Source: WAVY TV - Jul 18, 2007
Update posted on Jul 18, 2007 - 7:08PM 
A federal grand jury indicted NFL quarterback Michael Vick and three others today on dogfighting charges.

The charges are the first to be filed in an investigation that began in late April when police searched Vick's Surry County property and found more than 50 pit bulls and items associated with dog fighting.

The other men named in the indictment all known Vick associates are Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor. They and Vick were indicted on one count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Federal prosecutors filed a document earlier this month that detailed a dog fighting operation known as "Bad Newz Kennels" run out of Vick's Surry County property at 1915 Moonlight Road. The outfit conducted dog fights from 2002 to 2007 with people from several other states and sometimes killed the losing dogs by electrocution, shooting, strangulation or drowning, according to the document, which did not name any of the suspected participants.

Surry County authorities are also investigating the property but have not filed charges.
Source: HamptonRoads - July 17, 2007
Update posted on Jul 17, 2007 - 5:40PM 
The dogfighting that allegedly took place on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's property followed strict guidelines, federal authorities have found.

Federal prosecutors recently detailed in U.S. District Court documents the stringent rules used at the alleged dogfighting ring on property owned by Vick in Surry County, Va., The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.

While no charges have been filed yet in the case, federal prosecutors have made it clear such dogfighting efforts are illegal under current federal law.

The Falcons quarterback has repeatedly denied having any involvement with the alleged operation, which prosecutors allege was run by the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting organization.

The court documents detail how those in charge of the alleged dogfighting activities had imposed strict regulations to minimize cheating.

The investigation also reportedly learned many of the dogs used in the suspected ring were starved in order to make them more aggressive in matches.

The newspaper said prosecutors did not reveal where they had learned about the details surrounding the purported ring.
Source: UPI - July 15, 2007
Update posted on Jul 16, 2007 - 1:54AM 
In an effort to obtain custody of the 53 pit bulls taken from NFL quarterback Michael Vick's property in April, federal officials have laid out in court papers details of an extensive interstate dogfighting ring they say was based at Vick's Surry County property.

Legal experts say the civil action was the quickest way to get control of the dogs, which could be considered evidence of a crime. It also is a way to keep the dogs safe, experts said.

"It's significantly faster than dealing with a criminal charge. There's no grand jury to deal with," said Virginia Beach attorney L. Steven Emmert.

"The prosecutor simply files suit, and once a judge renders relief, the marshals have the authority to seize the dogs immediately," he said.

As of late Monday afternoon, a federal judge had not acted on the seizure request. The dogs were still being kept at various animal shelters throughout the region.

The federal court papers filed last week do not say where federal agents plan to take the dogs, but the animals could stay in the various shelters, with the federal government taking over payments for their care, according to federal law.

Dogs seized from fighting ventures often become targets of theft. Some dogs can fetch as much as $30,000, said Alexander Taylor who, as an assistant commonwealth's attorney in Richmond, prosecuted a dog fighting case this year. "They are very valuable, trust me," he said.

The federal government could use its resources for measures to increase security, such as adding a guard, said John Goodwin, deputy manager of animal cruelty issues for The Humane Society of the United States.

"There's a lot of people out there who could get street cred (credibility) by stealing a Vick dog," Goodman said. "Of course, they could get a lot of jail time, too."

Meanwhile, Surry Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter, who was on vacation Friday when federal agents searched the Vick property for the second time in a month, said county investigators would be glad to share evidence the Sheriff's Department collected when 1915 Moonlight Road was first searched.

"If they want it, they could certainly use it," Poindexter said.

Poindexter has no plans to halt his local investigation. Surry County's next grand jury, when Poindexter could seek indictments, is July 24. He said he won't go "to the grand jury empty-handed."

Neither Vick, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and a Newport News native, nor anyone else is named in the court papers, and no one has been charged. Vick has denied involvement in any illegal activity. His attorney refused to comment Monday.

Authorities allege the dogfighting operation called "Bad Newz Kennels " has been operating out of the Vick property since 2002.

Federal law prohibits interstate transport of animals used for fighting. If convicted of the felony, the maximum penalties are three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Source: Virginia Pilot - July 10, 2007
Update posted on Jul 10, 2007 - 5:52AM 
Federal agents investigating possible dog fighting searched property owned by Michael Vick Friday.

A Portsmouth tv station broadcast video of investigators working under a blue tarp on a portion of Vick's wooded property in southeastern Virginia. They were sifting dirt collected in white buckets and clearing brush.

Some wore T-shirts with the wording "POLICE."

Contacted by The Associated Press, the US Attorney's office would neither confirm nor deny the search or an investigation. Surry County officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

During an April 25th drug raid at the property, authorities seized 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and equipment commonly used in dog fighting. The search warrant affidavit says about half the dogs were tethered to car axles with heavy chains that allowed the dogs to get close to each other, but not to have contact, an arrangement typical for fighting dogs.

Later, after an informant suggested authorities could find as many as 30 dogs buried on the property, including seven buried only days before the initial raid. Surry County officials secured a search warrant, but never acted on it because prosecutor Gerald Poindexter said he had concerns with the document.

Vick has said he had no idea the property may have been used in a criminal enterprise and blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity. He also put the house up for sale and reportedly sold it quickly.
Source: MyFox Atlanta - July 6, 2007
Update posted on Jul 6, 2007 - 4:18PM 
Local veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck, one of the nation's top forensic vets, is assisting the prosecution in the investigation of dogfighting at property owned by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in Surry County, Virginia, she confirmed Monday.

Merck said she was working with the Surry County sheriff's office and Commonwealth attorney Gerald Poindexter. Merck, of Canton, had no knowledge of what was removed from Vick's property last Thursday, when the office of inspector general, U.S. Department of Agriculture executed a warrant - the third at the property.

"I wasn't involved in that aspect," Merck said. "I have no direct knowledge of what they found and no one has called (Monday) to give me an update."

Merck said she couldn't comment on the specifics of her role in the investigation.

Brown has said that he planned to set up a meeting this week to review the evidence in the case.

Federal officials have declined comment about what they were searching for or what was found on the property during the search.

Merck, who founded the Cat Clinic of Roswell in 1990, is considered one of the top animal crime scene investigators in the nation, according the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In December, Merck was the forensic vet that testified in the Fulton County case where two brothers were charged with torturing a puppy and then putting it in a heated oven to die (see case). The case ended in a hung jury and the brothers then pleaded guilty and were given the maximum sentence of five years on the felony animal abuse charges.

In April, she was a part of a team that seized 45 dogs, including 44 pit bulls, in Pass Christian, Miss. and St. Bernard Parish, La. in a dogfighting investigation (see case).

Merck and Randall Lockwood co-authored an award-winning book, Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty: A Guide for Veterinarians and Law Enforcement Professionals.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution - June 11, 2007
Update posted on Jun 11, 2007 - 4:52PM 
Surry County officials hope to learn next week what evidence federal authorities seized Thursday while executing a sealed search warrant at the Virginia property owned by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Sheriff Harold Brown said he expected to have a meeting next week to review evidence collected in the investigation of dogfighting and animal cruelty at the property.

If federal investigators decline to participate, local authorities will review evidence they have gathered in the six-week investigation, which remains ongoing, despite the federal involvement.

James P. Knorr of the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified Commonwealth attorney Gerald Poindexter and Brown on Thursday that federal agents and state police were going to search the grounds at 1915 Moonlight Road.

Investigators carried cardboard boxes from the area behind the house where there are dog kennels. A black SUV carrying plastic containers and boxes left the property and returned several times.

"I hope what they found helps our case - either way," Brown told the Journal-Constitution.

No local, state or federal agents were at the property Friday. Federal agents have refused comment on the investigation.

A search warrant requested by federal authorities was not executed last week after Poindexter and Brown objected to some of the language. According to that warrant, which expired Thursday, an informant stated that up to 37 dog carcasses could be found buried on the property.

Brown said he did not know if federal authorities would take over the case, if dual investigations would continue or if there would be a joint investigation. He added that he did not know when the search warrant would be unsealed but suggested that in federal cases sealed information might not become public until charges are filed, if not later.

Local, state and federal investigators met two weeks ago in Surry County to review evidence. Knorr represented the USDA at that meeting.

Vick has denied involvement in dogfighting in his one statement on the subject. He has refused comment since on the advice of his attorney.

Should the evidence gathered by federal authorities show that dogs were killed, such as by gunfire or blunt force, charges far more severe than dogfighting could be brought on a state level, according to Poindexter. Federal charges and punishment also could prove more serious than for dogfighting, Poindexter added.

As of now, local authorities don't have enough evidence to charge Vick or anyone else, Poindexter said. Poindexter has cautioned that as many as 10 people had access to the property. However, Poindexter said he did think there would be enough evidence - after this forthcoming review - to turn over to a grand jury on July 24, the next scheduled meeting.

Poindexter said he did not know whether federal involvement would speed up the pace of the case, but he defended local authorities and his oversight.

"We've been prudent," Poindexter said. "I'm trying to do my job. ... I'm interested to see how fast [federal authorities] move with this."

A former South Carolina prosecutor told the AJC on Friday that he saw evidence that Vick kept dogs in that state while he was prosecuting a major dogfighting case in 2004.

"I had actually heard, as part of our investigation, that Vick had some dogs here in South Carolina," said William Frick, the lead prosecutor in the David Ray Tant dogfighting case.

Frick said he did not know what kind of dogs Vick had in South Carolina but that he assumed they were "fighting dogs." Asked for specifics, Frick said Vick had a "dog yard" and it was not something that would bring charges.

Frick is no longer with the attorney general's office and currently is in private practice in Columbia. Tant, whom authorities labeled as the No. 2 dog breeder in the country, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 40-year prison term.

"I'm not surprised to hear that somewhere here in South Carolina that we have a connection," Frick said. "But as far as whether it's Tant or not, I really don't know if they dealt with each other."

According to Poindexter, investigators have interviewed two South Carolina inmates regarding the case involving Vick's Virginia property. Poindexter also said of Thursday's involvement by federal authorities, "The jurisdictional basis is some sort of interstate violation."
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution - June 11, 2007
Update posted on Jun 11, 2007 - 4:27PM 
Investigators are back on the property in Surry Co. belonging to NFL star Michael Vick, where a Federal search warrant is being executed right now.
Source: WAVY - June 7, 2007
Update posted on Jun 7, 2007 - 4:34PM 
Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter said he has heard from about a half-dozen people claiming to have information about Vick's involvement in dog fighting, but he does not know if their claims have proven to be reliable.

In a letter, an inmate in a South Carolina prison claimed that he attended dog fights where Vick also was in attendance and saw Vick bet large amounts of money. Another informant provided street names of dog fighters from elsewhere in Virginia.

A deputy sheriff in the county, W.R. Brinkman, is on the road investigating the claims, Poindexter said, noting that the investigation is the job of the sheriff.

Poindexter said a search warrant issued May 23 for the massive home Vick owns in the county still has not been executed because he wants to make certain that any search does not jeopardize the investigation. Several years ago, another dog fighting case in the county was thrown out of court because of an illegal search, he said.

The search warrant was issued after an informant told Brinkman there were as many as 30 dogs carcasses buried on the property, and Poindexter said he is confident that evidence already seized from the home would be enough to hand down indictments.

He said any attempt to remove the carcasses would also be incriminating.

When charges will be sought and who will face them remains to be seen, he said, noting that unless a special grand jury is called, the county grand jury is scheduled to meet next on July 24. The county has never had a special grand jury called.

The case began April 25 when police conducting a drug investigation raided the house Vick owns and found 66 dogs, 55 of them pit bulls. They also found items associated with dog fighting, including a "pry bar" used to pry apart a dog's jaws.

Dog fighting is a felony in Virginia.

Vick, a registered dog breeder, has blamed relatives for taking advantage of his generosity and insisted he's rarely at the house. He has since put the home on the market and sold it in a day, although the sale has not yet been completed.

A store-bought "For Sale by Owner" sign once put up in the front yard of the two-story, painted brick home is no longer in the yard
Source: Fox Sports News - June 1, 2007
Update posted on Jun 2, 2007 - 5:01PM 
Two law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation have reported they believe there is sufficient evidence to indict Michael Vick in connection with a suspected dog-fighting ring that was run on property the Falcons quarterback owned in Virginia. The sources, however, cautioned this week that, based on the current evidence, it might be difficult to successfully prosecute Vick, who has denied knowledge of dog fighting at the property in Surry County. "There is probably enough there to bring a bill [of indictment]," said one source, "But how some of [the evidence] would play out at trial, or if it even reached a trial ... I just don't know. These kinds of prosecutions are tough".

On Wednesday, Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter told ESPN that he recently received a call from a person whom he deemed credible, and that the informant gave him information regarding the ongoing investigation. Television station WAVY of Portsmouth, Va., reported Wednesday that informants have come forward who have said that they can link Vick to dog-fighting. "We have people who are volunteering to make those allegations," said Poindexter.

Asked if there was evidence that placed Vick at dog fights, Poindexter said, "Yes."

One source acknowledged that at least one federal agency beyond the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which was represented at a recent meeting with local investigators, has taken "a pretty serious interest" in the investigation in recent days. One of the sources has first-hand knowledge of the evidence that was presented May 21 during a two-hour meeting that included Poindexter and a representative from the USDA. The other was frequently apprised of what is included in the evidence, but has not yet directly reviewed it. Both sources were reportedly reluctant to discuss the evidence in detail. But one said that, beyond forensic evidence and also the dog-training paraphernalia that has been shown in various television reports, there are also "some documents" that suggest dog-fighting was taking place.

According to reports, Poindexter could convene a special grand jury to consider the case. The regular grand jury is not scheduled to meet until July 24, according to Surry County clerk of courts Gail P. Clayton. The grand jury meets on the fourth Tuesday of every other month, beginning in January.

The Journal-Constitution reported that two people claiming to have information that might aid the investigation have contacted law enforcement authorities, and that Poindexter was performing due diligence on the background of one of the two. Both of the sources who spoke to ESPN.com reportedly said claims that people have possible information that might strengthen the case is consistent with their understanding of the progress being made.Those people, their credibility and the value of the information that they claim to have are being scrutinized. "It would help [the case], obviously, if someone stepped up with something concrete," one source said. "A figure in a shadow, with a Darth Vader-type voice, that's fine, but sooner or later someone has to put their hand on a Bible in front of a jury."

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday interviewed a confidential informant, speaking on camera with his face hidden and his voice disguised, who alleged Vick is a "heavyweight" in dog-fighting circles. He claimed that Vick owned and fought dogs and bet heavily on them.

The pace of the investigation and the timing of any possible indictment against the embattled Vick, who is playing under a $130 million contract and is the face of Atlanta's franchise, could be critical to his plans for the 2007 season and to any potential sanctions by the NFL. If a grand jury in Surry County does not meet until late July, it would be right about the time Vick and the Falcons are to report to training camp.There are, some observers feel, enough potential maneuvers to perhaps delay a trial -- if the case reaches that point -- until after the season. Such trials have typically lasted eight months or more.

The NFL, which has offered the services of its security department to assist local authorities in the investigation, continues to closely monitor the proceedings. It is not known if commissioner Roger Goodell would consider sanctions against Vick if he is merely indicted. Goodell emphasized last week, at the NFL's spring meeting in Nashville, that the recent severe suspensions of Tennessee cornerback Pacman Jones and Cincinnati wide receiver Chris Henry were based in part on their status as repeat offenders of the league's personal conduct policy.
Source: ABC News May 31, 2007
Update posted on Jun 1, 2007 - 1:39PM 
An investigator close to the Surry case says investigators decided to hold off on the search because they wanted to throw all their resources towards interviewing an informant.

Investigators are meeting with that informant on Wednesday. It is believed the individual may have information on who was present during the alleged dog fights.

Once that interview is complete, they again may ask to search the property, though there are no such plans right now.

Tuesday the Commonwealth's Attorney said he had problems with the wording of the original search warrant.

"The sheriff and I didn't like the language of the affidavit," said Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter.

In the search warrant, investigators said reliable sources knew about seven pit bulls being killed two days before the raid.

They also had information about 30 dogs reportedly buried in the backyard.

According to dog fighting investigator John Goodwin, who is not working on this case, Surry County investigators likely have a number of witnesses.

Goodwin says it is likely in the best interest of investigators to search the property. He says the cadavers could prove to be smoking guns.
Source: WVEC.com
Update posted on May 30, 2007 - 9:41PM 
Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter has rejected a warrant to look for remains of pit bull dogs on the Surry County property that used to be owned by Michael Vick.

Poindexter says he and the sheriff "did not like the language" of the search warrant approved by a state magistrate. So they will not go forward with the search, which was requested by a sheriff's office investigator.

According to the search warrant, an informant told authorities that seven dogs were destroyed and buried on the property April 23rd, two days before Surry County initially raided the property on Moonlight Road.

It goes on to say as many as 30 dog carcasses might be buried on the property.

So far, investigators have not said if the search is complete or what, if anything, they found.

The search warrant calls for a search of property behind the main house on Moonlight Road, not the house itself.

According to the warrant, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General requested approval to go into a building on the backside of the property to pull up floor boards and wall boards looking for signs of blood.

The USDA also wanted to search for items that may have been used to bury animal bodies.

Police raided the rural home on April 25 during a drug investigation. 66 dogs, 55 of them pit bulls, and equipment that could be associated with dog fighting, were removed from the property.

Vick has said he let his cousin, Davon Boddie, live there and that he didn't know a large kennel on the property could be involved in criminal activity.

Over the weekend on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," an informant characterized by police as credible, said Vick attended a dog fight in 2000 and he called Vick "one of the heavyweights" in the sport of dog fighting.

Dog fighting is a felony in Virginia.

No charges have been placed in the case and the Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney has said he will not try the case in the media.

Vick recently sold the property. The buyer's name hasn't been revealed.

Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, meantime, has sent a letter to the NFL offering animal sensitivity training for the league's players and staff. Dan Shannon, PETA's assistant director, told WVEC.com Tuesday, "We haven't received a response from the NFL, but with the long weekend and so much going on with this case, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes the NFL a little while to respond."

No charges have been filed in the case yet, but Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter has publicly said he expects this case to result in charges.

Federal investigators are not saying what their involvement is in the case.
Source: WVEC - May 29, 2007
Update posted on May 29, 2007 - 3:55PM 
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was at a dog fight in 2000 and is "one of the heavyweights" in the sport, ESPN reported.

The network Sunday cited a police informant whom a dog-fighting investigator called "extremely reliable."

"That's who bets a large dollar," the informant said on the show "Outside the Lines." "And they have the money to bet large money. As I'm talking about large money, 30 to 40 thousand, even higher. He's one of the heavyweights."

When asked how he knows Vick bets that amount, the informant said, "because I've seen it."

The informant said his dog beat Vick's dog in 2000, the year before Vick was chosen by the Falcons with the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

Investigator David Hunt said information from the informant has "resulted in the arrest of several individuals over the past few years, numerous search warrants, as well as convictions."

Surry County (Va.) Commonwealth attorney Gerald Poindexter said Friday he is confident charges will be brought in the investigation of a possible dog-fighting operation at a house then owned by Vick. Dog fighting is a felony in Virginia.
Source: SVGTribune - May 29, 2007
Update posted on May 29, 2007 - 12:43PM 
Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter said Wednesday that investigators still lack solid evidence linking Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick - or anybody, for that matter - to dog fighting.

Last month, 66 dogs - most of which were pit bulls - were taken from a Surry County home owned by Vick. Officials, working on a search warrant, found exercise equipment, supplements used to build strength in dogs, and blood spatters on a wall, according to court documents. But that's not enough, Poindexter said.

"I know everybody is saying, 'When are those fools in Surry County going to get up off their butts and do something?' " Poindexter said. "But what are we going to do?"

He said there are no eyewitnesses to say there was dog fighting at the property. Until the search was conducted, the house was occupied by Vick's cousin, and Vick has said he was rarely there. Vick, a Newport News native and star player at Virginia Tech, has since sold the home on rural Moonlight Road for about half of its market value.

The 66 dogs are being housed in kennels in four counties, with Surry County taxpayers paying up to $25,000 for their care until the case is over.

Until January this year, there was a kennel license for 40 to 50 dogs at the property. Investigators have been unable to locate the man, Tony Taylor, whose name appeared on the license, Poindexter said. Taylor declined to comment last week when he returned a call from The Virginian-Pilot. He hung up when Vick's name was mentioned.

Poindexter, commonwealth's attorney in Surry County for 12 years, said he's never met Vick but that from everything he's heard, Vick is a nice guy.

Mark Kumpf, a dog fighting expert who is helping investigators on the case, disagreed with Poindexter about the strength of the evidence.

"There is more evidence there than has been used to convict several other people in Virginia," he said Wednesday, after he was told of Poindexter's comments.

Some of the items could be used for legal purposes, he said, but taken in totality, they become more suspect. "Treadmills, bloody carpet, scarred dogs, bite sticks: That is not consistent with legitimate competition," he said.

Kumpf, a former animal control officer in Norfolk and Newport News who now works in Ohio, testified as an expert witness in a dog fighting trial in Richmond earlier this year that ended in a conviction and recommended a four-year prison sentence for the defendant, Stacey Miller.

Having no eye witnesses is not unusual in dog fighting prosecutions, Kumpf said. Most of the cases rely heavily on circumstantial evidence because the secretive nature of the crime makes catching anyone in the act difficult, he said. Dog fighting is a felony in 48 states, and transporting dogs across state lines for fighting also is a felony.

Meanwhile, the dogs are spread out in municipal pounds from Chesapeake to Dinwiddie County, Surry County Board of Supervisors Chairman John M. Seward said.

The dogs are being exercised and well cared for, said Harry White, chief animal control officer in Suffolk, where five of the dogs are being held.

Fourteen of the dogs are in Surry, said animal control officer James Smith, and even when they were first brought in, they were healthy and appeared well cared for.

Poindexter said that is true of most of the dogs.

"There was one dog that was scarred," he said, "and another dog was taken to the vet immediately because of a birth defect."

Isle of Wight County, at Surry's border, has none of the Surry pit bulls, said Chief Ed Sullivan, with animal control. But that doesn't stop the phone from ringing, he said.

"We've gotten several phone calls," he said. "I assume the calls came from criminal types who wanted the dogs for fighting, but we weren't even asked to take any of them."

The dogs, Poindexter said, will be kept until the investigation is complete. After that, they could be euthanized.

The decision, ultimately, will have to be made, said John Goodwin, deputy manager of dog fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States. If the animals have been used for fighting, he said, there's no hope for rehabilitation.

But Poindexter said no decision has been made about the animals' future.

"I'm concerned about the dogs, and I'm concerned about having to euthanize the animals," he said. "If a decision had been made, who would have made it? Not me."

Poindexter said he is being "very, very careful" with this case because another fighting situation a few years ago taught him a lesson.

"We lost that one because of an illegal search, a Fourth Amendment violation," Poin-dexter said.

"Until this case is defined, until the results are reliable, until we have sufficient evidence, the only sense of urgency I have is the fate of those dogs."
Source: Virginia Pilot - May 23, 2007
Update posted on May 24, 2007 - 8:14PM 
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis defended Michael Vick by ridiculing the notion that dog fighting is considered a crime.

Portis said that if the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is charged and convicted of being involved in a dog fighting operation, then authorities would be "putting him behind bars for no reason."

Portis said if Vick was involved in dog fighting, it's his business. He claimed that where he grew up in Mississippi, a lot of back roads led to dog fights. He said the difference is those fights didn't have big names like Michael Vick involved.

Hours after making light of the possible crime, Portis issued a statement through the Redskins on Monday night.

"In the recent interview I gave concerning dog fighting, I want to make it clear I do not take part in dog fighting or condone dog fighting in any manner," the statement said.

Vick has been under investigation since April 25 when police conducting a drug investigation raided the house owned by the quarterback in rural Surry County and found dozens of dogs. They also found items associated with dog fighting, including a "pry bar" used to pry apart a dog's jaws. No charges have been filed.
Source: 10 News - May 22, 2007
Update posted on May 24, 2007 - 8:23PM 
The Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, which is investigating dogfighting at a property that was owned by Michael Vick, reportedly does not have a videotape of the Falcons quarterback at a dogfight.

Kathy Strouse, the lead investigator, said informants indicated that a tape exists of Vick at a dogfight.

"Let's be very accurate here, because some of the reports out there are not accurate," Strouse said on Tuesday. "We have information from informants that a tape exists of a dogfight and that Michael Vick is present. Whether that tape exists, we do not know that it exists."

Strouse, the animal-control coordinator for Chesapeake, Va., noted that the Humane Society of the United States offers rewards of $2,500 for evidence that leads to the prosecution and conviction of animal cruelty.

Gerald Poindexter, the commonwealth's attorney in Surry County, said a meeting was set for Monday to review evidence in the case. As of Wednesday morning, Strouse had not been contacted but was expecting an invitation.

"We have not handed Mr. Poindexter all of the evidence, but we're ready to lay it out for him," Strouse said.

Strouse has been qualified as an expert witness in a previous dogfighting case in Virginia. Strouse would not buy the contention that the evidence seized - which included nearly 70 dogs, four treadmills and documents - from the property owned by Vick was evidence of a kennel.

"Absolutely not," Strouse said. "Not when you find the blood-stained pit."

VicksK9Kennels.com, a Web site that advocates the breeding of dogs, has been linked to one of Vick's companies, MV7, LLC.

"Let me be very, very clear: There's no doubt in my mind that this was a dogfighting operation," Strouse said, "based not only on what we found at the property but from intelligence, documentation and other evidence we've gathered."

Strouse would not deny or confirm whether the task force had any evidence directly tying Vick to dogfighting.

"That's part of the investigation," Strouse said.

Strouse assisted in the dog investigation of the Benjamin Butts case in Surry County in 2000. A total of 33 dogs were removed and later returned after he was not prosecuted. Butts died Feb. 17.

"One of the treadmills looks identical to one we have pictures of from the Butts case," Strouse said. "One of our officers identified one of the dogs as looking very similar to one of the dogs from the Butts case."

Virginia officials believe the two operations are linked.

"We've gathered some information from some informants that would indicate that," Strouse said.

Virginia is a hotbed for dogfighting. There have been recent convictions in Richmond, Chesapeake and Spotsylvania. The most notorious Virginia case was of "Fat" Bill Reynolds, publisher of a dogfighting magazine, who spent 30 months in prison on federal charges of sending images of pit-bull fights across state lines.

"We think that it's very prevalent. That's why the task force has been formed, because it's a serious problem in Virginia," Strouse said. "The rural localities don't have the resources to work one of these cases on their own. We provide investigators, housing for the dogs and experts to testify."
Source: Oxford Press - May 17, 2007
Update posted on May 17, 2007 - 8:21PM 
Surry County, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter will meet with Sheriff Harold Brown and investigators Monday to review evidence of dog-fighting discovered at a property owned by Falcons quarterback
Michael Vick.

Poindexter reportedly said that he was recently contacted by Brown to schedule a meeting, the first time he had been approached by investigators to review evidence.

Police initially went to the property owned by Vick on April 25 in a drug investigation involving Vick's cousin. Evidence of dog-fighting, including nearly 70 dogs, mostly pit bulls, was collected over several days.

Charges have yet to be filed. A grand jury convenes in Surry County on Tuesday. However, Poindexter said it was unlikely a review of the evidence would be completed in time to submit it to the grand jury at that time.

Dog-fighting is a felony in Virginia and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

In regard to Vick, at this point he is being viewed as nothing more than the property owner unless evidence reveals that he could be involved in illegal activity, Poindexter said.

Poindexter would not say if he expected charges to be brought. Without reviewing the evidence, Poindexter declined to say if Vick was a focus of the investigation.

"I'm not going to be a party to a witch hunt," Poindexter said. "This [process] will not be driven by people who hate Michael Vick, love Michael Vick or people who love animals."

Vick, at an event preceding the NFL draft April 28-29, blamed family members for the current situation and said that he never visited the property.

Poindexter said there is evidence to suggest that Vick has been at the property several times.

The investigation of Vick's property, alleged dog-fighting and the collection of evidence have been handled by local authorities.

The dogs are being kept at animal-control shelters throughout the region.

There were other people who lived at the property, either full time or part time. Vick also hired people to tend to the property, and to the dogs, for which a current kennel license exists.

A company owned by Vick has a Web site that advertises the sale of pit bulls and presa canarios.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution - May 16, 2007
Update posted on May 16, 2007 - 9:43PM 
Mary Kay Mallonee, a reporter for the television station WAVY, has been investigating the Michael Vick dog-fighting story, and in a radio interview yesterday, she described Vick's property as "a huge operation" where investigators found blood-soaked carpeting and wounded dogs.

Mallonnee interviewed employees of a store near Vick's property and reported:

"There's a store nearby and the clerks there said, 'Yeah, he comes in here often to buy supplies, lots of supplies, for the dogs, including things like syringes.'"

Meanwhile, the Humane Society is citing Vick as well as other NFL players past and present in telling commissioner Roger Goodell that he his league has a serious problem with dog fighting and cruelty to animals.
Source: AOL Sports Blog - May 4, 2007
Update posted on May 5, 2007 - 2:47PM 
Prosecutors say that Vick's claims about never visiting the home and being completely unaware of what was happening at the Surry County home are simply not true. Additionally, WAVY searched their archive for chopper footage of back when the Vick home was being built in 2003, when Vick had his double-wide trailer hauled away and a 4700 square foot home built.

Their footage clearly shows the same three outbuildings used to contain some of the the dogs, complete with areas for training, and evidence of dogs at the property.

Interviews with a construction worker who helped build the house in 2003 confirmed not only that Vick was there routinely while the house was being built, but also that there were at least 40 dogs on the property, as well as the dog-fighting equipment police seized.

According to the Commonwealth Attorney, there is no question that Vick visits the Surry property often.

Investigators also found the skeletal remains of at least one dog on the Surry County property, estimated to have been there for approximately two years.
Source: WAVY video footage (filesize: 18.15M)
Update posted on May 1, 2007 - 11:08AM 
Falcons quarterback Michael Vick had a 20-minute conversation with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in New York on Saturday at which a series of off-field incidents were discussed.

Vick admitted to the meeting on Saturday while he was in New York for the NFL draft. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the team would adhere to Goodell's new, strict player code of conduct and that he hopes Vick understands the seriousness of the heightened attention the league is paying to off-field behavior.

"I know the commissioner is aware of everything going on with players in the NFL, and obviously he's aware of any incidents with Michael and any other players," Blank said Sunday. "He knows I believe strongly in his code of conduct. I expect us to fully enforce it here and I expect him to fully enforce it with our players. Hopefully, Michael understands that as well."

Goodell was very direct about the behavior he expects out of Vick, who last week missed a flight for an award ceremony in front of members of Congress and is having a property he owns in Virginia investigated for a possible dog-fighting ring.

Vick's meeting with Goodell was not scheduled but took place because Vick was one of three former Virginia Tech players who took part in a pre-draft ceremony honoring Virginia Tech, site of this month's tragic shooting. Goodell and Vick did not speak solely about Vick's tumultuous offseason.

In an interview with ESPN, Vick reiterated what he has already told the Journal-Constitution. He acknowledged the meeting with Goodell and said he needed to be more responsible for his actions and the people with whom he associates.

"After what happened Friday, and then what happened on Monday, I just wanted to crawl in a hole. I can't take it no more," Vick told ESPN. "I walk around with a smile on my face and act like I'm happy, but on the inside it's hurting. And it's killing me. I ain't got no more energy left for it. The more I continue to do things and my name is in the media, I'm not going to get anywhere. ... I'm taking it upon myself and giving everybody my word that things are going to get changed around. Things are going to get turned around. I have a game plan for it. ... The company I keep, a lot of things gotta change, and I mean that from the heart."

Goodell has already suspended Tennessee's Pacman Jones and Cincinnati's Chris Henry for games next season after off-the-field issues.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution - April 29, 2007
Update posted on Apr 29, 2007 - 9:46PM 
Michael Vick blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity after a police raid found evidence of dog fighting on property he owns in Virginia.

An animal-rights group scoffed at that explanation, saying it's long suspected the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was involved in the fight-to-the-death activity.

Embroiled in another embarrassing - and perhaps criminal - situation, Vick traveled to New York on Friday to take part in activities leading up to the NFL Draft.

Appearing at a news conference to announce his participation in the NFL Quarterback Challenge, Vick described himself as an unwitting victim of relatives living on his property in Smithfield, Va.

"I'm never at the house," Vick said, according to ajc.com. "I left the house with my family members and my cousin. They just haven't been doing the right thing."

Police conducting a drug investigation raided the Vick-owned house and found dozens of dogs, some injured and emaciated. Investigators also discovered items associated with dog fighting.

Vick claimed he knew nothing about it.

"It's unfortunate I have to take the heat," he said. "If I'm not there, I don't know what's going on. It's a call for me to really tighten down on who I'm trying to take care of. When it all boils down, people will try to take advantage of you and leave you out to dry. Lesson learned for me."

John Goodwin, who handles dog-fighting issues for the Humane Society of America, was skeptical that Vick was unaware of such a large operation - especially when police were led to the property as part of a drug investigation after arresting the quarterback's 26-year-old cousin, Davon Boddie.

Goodwin said authorities found 66 dogs on the property, mostly pit bulls who appeared to be involved in organized fighting. He estimated it would cost up to $100 a day just to feed that number of animals, not to mention other hefty expenses.

"Who's paying to feed all those dogs?" Goodwin asked. "Who has the money to feed 66 pit bulls that's in some way, shape or form related to that property?"

He said the Humane Society has heard for several years that Vick was personally involved in the brutal, clandestine activity, which is banned nationwide and a felony in 48 states, including Virginia and Georgia. A conviction in Virginia carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

"We get a lot of calls, and people were always kind of kicking his name around," Goodwin said. "But it was always difficult to put together a complete case on the guy. The word is that he has multiple layers of protection. When the search warrant was executed and they found all the things they found, it really came as no surprise."

Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said the team would not have a comment until it got more details on the investigation. Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward, did not return a telephone message seeking comment for the second day in a row.

"The search warrant was issued in a matter unrelated to the property owner, Mr. Michael Vick," said Surry County Sheriff Harold D. Brown.

Goodwin, who has worked with authorities on numerous dog-fighting cases, said he was told that officers also found bloody strips of carpeting, commonly used in dog-fighting pits, and "breaking sticks" - hammer-like devices used to pry open an animal's jaw after a fight.

The NFL said it is looking into the matter. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he intends to crack down on players involved in off-the-field misconduct.

Goodell might be swayed by a string of embarrassing incidents involving Vick, starting with a sordid lawsuit that accused him of knowingly infecting a woman with a sexually transmitted disease and using the alias "Ron Mexico" while seeking treatment. The case was settled out of court.

Last season, Vick flashed an obscene hand gesture to heckling Atlanta fans as he walked off the field following a loss. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL and donated another $10,000 to charity.

In January, security officers at Miami International Airport seized a water bottle from Vick that they said smelled of marijuana and had a hidden compartment. Authorities later said there were no drugs in the bottle, and Vick explained that he used the secret compartment to carry jewelry.

Just this week, Vick came under more criticism when he failed to show for a lobbying appearance on Capitol Hill in support of increased funding for after-school programs. He missed a connecting flight in Atlanta through no fault of his own, but didn't turn up for a later flight.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked Falcons owner Arthur Blank to suspend Vick pending the investigation and "to kick him off the team if it is found that dogs on Vick's property were neglected or used for fighting."

Goodwin said the Humane Society would take a similar stand if criminal charges were filed against Vick.

While the quarterback insisted he was not involved in dog fighting, he has shown an interest in breeding pit bulls.

In a 2001 profile by The Sporting News, he revealed having a pit bull that already had produced one litter and said he was trying to start a breeding kennel.

"There's more to me than people might think," he said at the time.
Source: USA Today - April 28, 2007
Update posted on Apr 28, 2007 - 2:38AM 
NFL star Michael Vick blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity after a police raid found evidence of dog fighting at property he owns in Surry County.

"I'm never at the house," Vick said at a New York news conference Friday to announce his participation in the NFL Quarterback Challenge. "I left the house with my family members and my cousin. They just haven't been doing the right thing."

Authorities found a room resembling one used in dog fighting when they searched the home this week, an investigator on the case said.

Blood covered areas of the room, said Kathy Strouse, of the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force.

Authorities removed the last of 66 dogs Friday from the home about 10 miles from Smithfield, where Vick's cousin Davon Boddie lives.

Vick owns the 15-acre property. A sheriff's deputy said Thursday that the former Virginia Tech star was not the focus of the probe.

The animals removed include about 54 pit bulls, many of them badly scarred, said Strouse, animal control coordinator for Chesapeake.

The pit bulls likely will be euthanized if a judge rules they should not go back to their owners, she said.

The dogs are conditioned to be too violent with other dogs, making it "completely irresponsible to put them back into the community," she said.

A custody hearing must be held for the dogs within 10 days but one had not been scheduled in court by early Friday afternoon. Ownership of the animals is still in dispute, Strouse said.

Some of the dogs needed care for wounds and lacked adequate water or shelter, but most were in "fairly good weight," Strouse said.

They are being held at various shelters, she said.

Police also found a cache of suspected dog-fighting items, including "performance- enhancing pharmaceuticals," treadmills to condition the animals and papers that documented involvement in animal fighting, according to the Animal Fighting Task Force.

Boddie gave the Surry County address as his home when he was arrested April 20 in Hampton on suspicion of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute. Police got a search warrant and went through the house Wednesday looking for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

That's when officers found evidence of dog fighting, according to a subsequent search warrant filed in Surry County Circuit Court.

Organized dog fighting is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Vick insisted Friday that he knew nothing of what was happening at the home.

"It's unfortunate I have to take the heat," the Newport News native said. " It's a call for me to really tighten down on who I'm trying to take care of.... Lesson learned for me."
Source: Virginia Pilot - April 28, 2007
Update posted on Apr 28, 2007 - 2:34AM 
The Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force (VAFTF) responded to assist Virginia State Police and Drug Task Force officers upon the execution of a search warrant on April 25, 2007 at the Smithfield, Virginia property of Michael Vick. Evidence seized included:

a number of injured American Pit Bull Terrier dogs
animal fighting paraphernalia
animal training and breeding equipment including a "rape stand," a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down to an elevated stand while her head is held in place by a restraint
a "break" or "parting" stick used to pry open fighting dogs' mouths during fights
treadmills and "slat mills" used to condition dogs out of public view
assorted paperwork documenting involvement in animal fighting ventures
performance enhancing pharmaceuticals commonly used to increase the fighting potential in dogs trained for fighting, and to keep injured dogs fighting longer

The investigation is ongoing and additional evidence is being collected. The property, owned by Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick, has been characterized as a professional level animal fighting production facility. Sources close the investigation identified training equipment that has been seen before in other Virginia dog fighting investigations.

VAFTF members continue to receive information regarding the alleged animal fighting operations with tips coming in daily. Links to other known participants in the animal fighting underground have been alleged and investigators will continue to follow these leads as the case develops.

The VAFTF was organized by the Virginia Animal Control Association in response to the emergence of major dog fighting operations throughout the Commonwealth. In cooperation with the Attorney General's Office, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and participating jurisdictions, the task force was formed to respond and investigate major cases such as this.

Kathy Strouse, VAFTF Lead Investigator and Chesapeake Animal Control Coordinator, was on the scene as part of a multi-jurisdictional response to this case. "Large scale animal fighting operations such as this pose a serious threat to public safety and to animal welfare. It is critical that all those responsible be held accountable, so that these criminal ventures do not continue to proliferate in Virginia's communities."

Strouse has assisted in the investigation of several major dog fighting cases including the Benjamin Butts case, also in Surry County. She has served as a resource for the Virginia Legislature on animal fighting legislation and is a Bloodsports Investigations Instructor for the National Animal Control Association Academy. Recognized as an expert in dogfighting and animal cruelty cases, Strouse's experience with these cases will be a crucial part of any potential criminal charges that may be sought.

Animal Control Officers from Surry County, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County all responded at the request of Drug Task Force investigators. Many Hampton Roads area Animal Control agencies will be assisting with various aspects of the case as dogs are removed from the property pending legal action.

Recent cases handled by VAFTF members include Stacey Albert Miller in Richmond, Alfred Charles Taylor in Chesapeake, Charles Lowmax in Spotsylvania. Information requests, tips, and related requests may be sent to VAFTF, P.O. Box 25248, Richmond, VA 23232.
Source: NAFTF Press Release - April 27, 2007
Update posted on Apr 27, 2007 - 2:23PM 
The State Police relayed what they found Wednesday to county Animal Control Officer James Smith, who listed the evidence for a magistrate to issue a search warrant for evidence of dog fighting, including:

* At least four treadmills or slat mills for conditioning.

* A scale with a hook on it to weigh dogs, which are often fought at an agreed-upon weight.

* Vitamins, dietary and red blood cell supplements to enhance the dogs' condition.

* A diuretic to stimulate urination after a fight.

* Drugs and antibiotics to treat wounds.

Smith wrote that the State Police found about 30 "pit bull type" dogs tied to heavy chains attached to car axles buried in the ground.

The setup allowed the animals to come close to one another without touching. Three dogs were heavily scarred to the face, head, ears, chest and front legs, he added.

Between 50 and 65 pit bulls were found at the home, said State Police 1st Sgt. Steven D. Tate. A locked gate kept visitors far from the front door.

Virginia Beach lawyer Lawrence H. Woodward Jr. said he was representing Vick in the matter but declined to comment. Atlanta Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts also said the team had no comment.
Source: Virginia Pilot - April 26, 2007
Update posted on Apr 27, 2007 - 12:45AM 
Early reports indicate as many as 70 dogs on the property, including 60 pit bulls with wounds that appear to be consistent with dog-fighting. Authorities have allegedly uncovered extensive dog-fighting paraphernalia, including rape stands (used to allow fighting dogs to breed while preventing them from attacking each other), equipment used to build strength and endurance in fighting dogs, and controlled substances frequently used in dog-fighting.

A drug investigation involving Vick's nephew, who lives at the home, led authorities to the residence, state police spokesman Sgt. D.S. Carr told the Virginia-Pilot newspaper.

According to WAVY-TV, a search warrant was granted in Surry County Circuit Court. A state task force went to the property on Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Va. searching for a person believed to be on the property, but not Vick. According to the reports, Vick does not live at the property. While investigators were on the scene, they discovered three buildings that housed several barking dogs.

Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin told television station FOX 43 that the property "does give the appearance of some activity, illegal activity."

The ABC news affiliate in Norfolk, Va., WVEC, reported Thursday morning that State Police officers found as many as 50 dogs "suffering from neglect" at the home. According to WVEC.com, "Officers from the Meherrin Drug Task Force also were on the scene. It's a multi-jurisdictional task force to investigate major drug trafficking."

According to a records search, Vick owns the property at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Va.
Update posted on Apr 26, 2007 - 12:58PM 

References

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