|Feds search Vick's property in dogfighting investigation|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 June 2007 16:06|
More than a dozen vehicles went to the home early in the afternoon and investigators searched inside before turning their attention to the area where officials found dozens of dogs in late April and evidence that suggested the home was involved in a dogfighting operation.
Surry County officials had secured a search warrant in late May based on an informant's information to look for as many as 30 dog carcasses buried on the property. The warrant never was executed because Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter said he had issues with the way it was worded.
That search warrant expired Thursday.
``What is foreign to me is the federal government getting into a dogfighting case,'' Poindexter said. ``I know it's been done, but what's driving this? Is it this boy's celebrity? Would they have done this if it wasn't Michael Vick?''
Poindexter said he was ``absolutely floored'' that federal officials got involved, and that he believes he and Sheriff Harold D. Brown handled the investigation properly.
``Apparently these people want it,'' Poindexter said. ``They want it, and I don't believe they want it because of the serious criminal consequences involved. ... They want it because Michael Vick may be involved.''
Poindexter said he found out about a sealed search warrant filed in the U.S. Attorney's office about the time federal investigators executed it Thursday.
``If they've made a judgment that we're not acting prudently and with dispatch based on what we have, they've not acting very wisely,'' Poindexter said.
He said Surry County officials were preparing another search warrant for the property and that the investigative team planned to meet to make sure they had all the experts needed to make the search most effective.
``There's a larger thing here, and it has nothing to do with any breach of protocol,'' Poindexter said. ``There's something awful going on here. I don't know if it's racial. I don't know what it is.''
State police assisted investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Attorney's office in executing the warrant, Virginia State Police Sgt. D.S. Carr said, declining to comment further.
Thursday evening, a state police evidence collection truck was parked inside the fence surrounding the house. Investigators could be seen carrying a large sheet of plywood and a box.
The U.S. Attorney's office would not confirm a search warrant was filed.
Messages left at Brown's office were not returned, and a dispatcher said he left for the day at around 4 p.m.
An after-hours call to Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward of Virginia Beach, was not immediately returned.
During an April 25 drug raid on the home Vick owns in the county, authorities seized 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and equipment that suggested someone at the property was involved in a dogfighting operation.
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.
Vick has claimed he rarely visits the home and was unaware it could be involved in a criminal enterprise. He also has blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity. Vick's cousin, Davon Boddie, was living at the home at the time of the raids.
Vick, a registered dog breeder, has said in more recent interviews that his lawyers have advised him not to discuss the investigation.