Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick Indicted For Dog Fighting Operation - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/19/07-MONTGOMERY, Ala.,

Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick Indicted For Dog Fighting Operation

 A federal district court in Virginia on Tuesday indicted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others for alleged involvement in an interstate dog fighting operation.

The government is alleging starting in or about early 2001 and continuing through on or about April 25, 2007, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere,  the four men combined to "conspire, confederate and agree with each other" to carry on unlawful activity - a business enterprise involving gambling in violation of Virginia and U.S. law.

The indictment says the men "knowingly"  were "sponsoring and exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture" and "knowingly buying, transporting, delivering, and receiving for purposes of transportation, in interstate commerce, any dog for purposes of having the dog participate in an animal fighting venture..."

According to the indictment at least one of the pit bulls involved in the fighting was transported in or about late 2002 "from Alabama to Virginia with a male pit bull to participate in a dog fight against a male pit bull named "Chico" owned by "Bad Newz Kennels ."

"Bad Newz Kennels" hosted the dog fight at 1915 Moonlight Road and established the purse at approximately $1,000 per side, for a total of approximately $2,000.

"In or about late 2002, "Bad Newz Kennels," represented by PHILLIPS and TAYLOR, won the purse when "Chico" prevailed over the male pit bull from Alabama ." 

The charges say the defendants conspired to:

a.  purchase and develop a parcel of property to serve as the main staging area for hosing and training pit bulls involved in the animal fighting venture and for hosting dog fights,

b .  establish a kennel name to represent the animal fighting venture in dog fighting competitions ;

c .  purchase pit bulls for use in dog fighting competitions :

d.  train and breed pit bulls for participation in dog fighting competitions,

e .  travel to other locations in interstate commerce to participate in dog fighting competitions;

f.  sponsor and exhibit dogs in animal fighting competitions in interstate commerce involving dogs that have moved across state lines;

g.  provide funding for the expenses associated with the ongoing animal fighting venture, including improvements on the property, dog food, medicine, travel expenses, and purse fees for dog fighting competitions; and

h.  develop the animal fighting venture's pool of pit bulls by testing the fighting prowess of dogs within the venture, providing veterinary treatment for injured dogs slated to stay with the kennel, and destroying or otherwise disposing of dogs not selected to stay with the ongoing animal fighting venture ."

The charges allege Vick purchased the property used " as the main staging area for housing and training the pit bulls involved in the dog fighting venture and hosting dog fights" and alleges that starting in 2001, all four men "started acquiring pit bulls for the fighting operation from various locations inside and outside of Virginia.."

The court document is laced with descriptions of how animals were "tested" and in some cases executed. According to the indictment Peace and Vick "'rolled' or 'tested' some of their fighting dogs against other dogs owned by CW #1 and others in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  "Rolling" or "testing" a fighting dog means placing the dog in a short fighting match to determine how well the animal fights. One of the pit bulls sponsored by PEACE and VICK in this "testing" session did not fight very well.  In or about February 2002, PEACE executed the pit bull that did not perform well in the "testing" session by shooting it with a .22 caliber pistol."

Allegedly in the summer of 2002 two other dogs were also executed for not performing well during "testing."  One dog was shot and another electrocuted, according to the indictment.

Elsewhere the indictment alleges that in March 2003 a "Bad Newz Kennels" pit bull lost a fight and "In or about March of 2003, PEACE, after consulting with VICK about the losing female pit bull's condition, executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal ."

The indictment alleges at one point Michael Vick "retrieved a book bag from a vehicle containing approximately $23,000 in cash." The cash was supposedly provided as payment to the winning owner of dog fight matches.

In another instance the government alleges that following a fight lost by another one of their dogs, Peace "executed the losing dog by shooting it with a Pistol."

The government argues also that "From in or about late 2004 through 2005 at various times, the exact dates being unknown to the Grand Jury, PEACE, PHILLIPS, VICK, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury continued operation of the animal fighting venture at 1915 Moonlight Road and hosted approximately 10 dog fights on the property . Many of these fights were held on the second floor of 'a shed on the property . Participants in these fights carne from various places, including New York, "Texas, and North Carolina ."

The indictment says into 2007 the dog fighting operation continued at the property on Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Virginia that Vick had purchased and that dogs continued to be "tested" to see which animals were good fighters.

In one instance, according to the government, "in or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground ."

"On or about April 25, 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK possessed various items associated with the continued operation of the dog fighting operation at 1915 Moonlight Road, including the sheds and kennels associated with housing the fighting dogs and hosting dog fights ; approximately 54 American Pit Bull Terriers, some of which had scars and injuries appearing to be related to dog fighting ; a "rape stand," a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down with her head 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 fighting dogs ; and other items ."

According to a press release from the Eastern District of Virginia the punishment range on the Travel Act portion of the conspiracy charge carries a "statutory maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and full restitution." 

The animal fighting venture portion carries with it "one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.  The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking recovery of any property constituting , or derived from, proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of these offenses."

The government says the "federal investigation into the defendants' criminal conduct is continuing."

The Atlanta Falcons posted a the following statement regarding Vick's indictment on their Web site:

"This situation has been troubling to many people, including our fans, during the last few months.  With today's news, our club and team will continue to be tested as Michael works through the legal process toward a conclusion.

We are disappointed that one of our players - and therefore the Falcons - is being presented to the public in a negative way, and we apologize to our fans and the community for that.

Obviously, we are disturbed by today's news from Virginia.  However, we are prepared to deal with it, and we will do the right thing for our club as the legal process plays out.  We have a season to prepare for and training camp opens next week.  Our plan is to continue to do everything we can to support our players and coaches."

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Reported by:  Helen Hammons

Story provided by WSFA Raycom Media. All rights reserved.

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