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 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - People have told investigators that Michael Vick was involved in a dogfighting operation at a house he owns in Surry County, the sheriff said Wednesday, and Vick will be charged if investigators can find evidence backing those claims.
Sheriff Harold D. Brown, who is leading the investigation, said he hopes members of a task force that have been gathering evidence in the case can meet by sometime next week to see how credible the evidence is and how best to proceed. At least one of those informants wrote from a prison in South Carolina.
``People are saying that he was there, Michael Vick was at the residence, and that he was involved,'' Brown said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``I don't want to get into details of the case right now, but that's what we're looking at. If he was there, then we're going to charge him, also.''
Brown said the task force involves five or six people, including a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Virginia State Police.
Vick, a registered dog breeder, has refused to comment directly about the case, saying his attorney ``has advised me not to talk about the situation right now.'' Vick has claimed since the investigation started that he rarely visits the home, and he has blamed family members and others for taking advantage of his generosity.
``I know it's taking some time, but we're just being careful. We've got to make sure we've got everything in order and that the information that they're getting is reliable,'' Brown said. ``It's frustrating because people want you to prosecute before you even get all the evidence.
``I tell them we don't solve a case in an hour, like they do on `Law and Order.' We want to make sure that we've got everything together.''
On April 25, a search of the house owned by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and inhabited by his cousin, Davon Boddie, uncovered drug paraphernalia and 66 dogs in the backyard. A search warrant affidavit said some of the dogs were in individual kennels and about 30 were tethered with ``heavy logging-type chains'' buried in the ground.
The chains allowed the dogs to get close to each other, but not to have contact, one of myriad findings on the property that suggested a dogfighting operation.
Others included a rape stand, used to hold non-receptive dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified to be used by dogs; a ``pry bar'' used to open the clamped-down mouths of dogs; and a bloodied piece of carpeting the authorities believe was used in dog fights. Carpeting gives dogs traction in a plywood fighting pit.
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