2 More Plead Guilty in Vick Case
Saturday, August 18, 2007
RICHMOND, Aug. 17 -- Two co-defendants in the Michael Vick dogfighting case pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Friday in federal district court and agreed to "fully cooperate" with prosecutors building a case against Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips of Atlanta become the third co-defendants to plead guilty of conspiracy to travel interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
Tony Taylor of Hampton, who also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, pleaded guilty last month.
In a hearing Friday morning before Judge Henry E. Hudson, Peace and Phillips stated they understand the charges against them and are willing to accept a prison sentence of up to five years and a $250,000 fine.
But, as part of the plea agreement and federal sentencing guidelines, their sentences likely will be considerably less.
Vick pleaded not guilty last month and is scheduled for trial Nov. 20.
Sources close to the case have told The Washington Post that Vick is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, but they said Friday that no agreement is imminent.
Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., one of Vick's attorneys, sat in on Peace and Phillips's hearings Friday morning but declined to comment as he left the courthouse.
As part of Phillips's plea agreement, he signed a "summary of the facts" outlining the role he and his three co-defendants played in operating the "Bad Newz Kennels" on Vick's property in southeastern Virginia.
According to Phillips's summary, Vick funded purses for the dogfights. He also participated in several dogfights at his Surry County property between 2002 and 2007. Vick also traveled with "Bad Newz Kennels" dogs to fights in South Carolina and North Carolina, according to the documents.
In April 2007, according to Phillips's statement, he, along with Peace and Vick, "tested" dogs by "putting the dogs through fighting sessions . . . to determine which animals were good fighters."
The three men "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well."