|Prosecutor says he'll seek indictments in case at Michael Vick's property|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 September 2007 21:42|
While the disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback awaits a Dec. 10 sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges, the prosecutor in the rural county where the enterprise was located has plans to prosecute Vick as well.
State charges that could include numerous counts of animal cruelty could wind up subjecting Vick to far more prison time than the federal case will earn him.
Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter was to appear before a grand jury on Tuesday, and he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday night he would seek indictments involving dogfighting on Vick's county property.
In a written plea for the federal case, Vick has admitted to helping kill six to eight dogs at property he owns on Moonlight Road that was central to the dogfighting operation. Similarly, the three co-defendants in the case have admitted their involvement and detailed what they claim was Vick's role.
For county law enforcement officials who started the investigation with a raid on Vick's property in late April, then saw the federal government move in and take over, those signed statements provide ample evidence to support further prosecution.
Vick, who faces up to five years in federal prison, has been indefinitely suspended without pay by the NFL and been dropped by all his major sponsors, including Nike.
New local charges, and a conviction, could spell an end to any hope he has of resuming his NFL career after serving a likely federal prison term. Any animal cruelty charge in Virginia is punishable by up to five years in prison, and he admitted in his written plea to helping kill six to eight pit bulls days before the first raid. Though not likely, that alone could expose him to as many as 40 years in prison.
Vick and three co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in the case, and all are awaiting sentencing in court before the end of the year.
Vick, in his written plea, also admitted to supplying money for gambling on the fights involving Bad Newz Kennels dogs. He said he did not personally place bets or share in any winnings, but gave his three co-defendants all those proceeds.
The case began in late April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of Vick's cousin raided the former Virginia Tech star's property and seized dozens of dogs, most of them pit bulls, and equipment commonly associated with dogfighting.
Six weeks later, with the local investigation perceived to be dragging and a search warrant allowed to expire, federal agents arrived with their own search warrants and started digging up dog carcasses buried days before the first raid.
Poindexter, who had been widely criticized for the pace of the investigation, reacted angrily when the feds moved in, suggesting that Vick's celebrity was a draw, or that their pursuit of the case could have racial overtones. He later eased off those comments, saying the sides would simply be pursuing parallel investigations.