|Plea deals to leave Vick as last dogfighting defendant|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 16 August 2007 21:23|
One defendant previously changed his plea to guilty, and the two others were set to enter plea agreements in federal court Friday and cooperate in the government's case against Vick.
The four men 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 Dec. 14.
Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach, Quanis Phillips of Atlanta, Vick and Taylor all initially pleaded not guilty. Vick issued a statement at the time, saying he looked forward to clearing his name at a Nov. 26 trial.
The offenses are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines likely would call for less.
With his NFL career in jeopardy and a superseding indictment adding more charges in the works, Vick and his attorneys have been talking with federal prosecutors about a possible plea agreement.
Any outcome that ties the 27-year-old Vick to betting on the dogfights could trigger a lifetime ban from the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from the Falcons' training camp but has withheld further action while the NFL conducts its own investigation.
Goodell said Thursday the league hasn't been monitoring Vick's plea negotiations.
A statement of facts signed by Taylor as part of his plea agreement placed Vick at the scene of several dogfights and linked him to betting. Taylor said Vick financed virtually all the ``Bad Newz Kennels'' operation on Vick's property in Surry County.
The case began with a search in April that turned up dozens of pit bulls and an assortment of dogfighting paraphernalia at the property a few miles northwest of Vick's hometown of Newport News. According to the July 17 indictment, dogs that lost fights or fared poorly in test fights were sometimes executed by hanging, electrocution or other means.