Taylor's cooperation could help U.S. prove conspiracy vs. Vick
Tony Taylor's expected plea of guilty -- and with it, his future cooperation with prosecutors -- adds to an already impressive array of evidence against Michael Vick in the federal government's dogfighting case against the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
Taylor is due to enter his guilty plea at 9 a.m. Monday at U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va. His hearing was added to U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson's docket Friday, a day after he and the other three defendants including Vick pleaded not guilty before the same judge.
Taylor was, according to the federal indictment, in the middle of the dogfighting scheme from the beginning. The indictment says Taylor, along with Vick and co-defendant Quanis Phillips, in 2001 "decided to start a venture aimed at sponsoring American Pit Bull Terriers in dogfighting competitions."
When Taylor describes these conversations with Vick and Phillips, it will be powerful evidence against Vick, establishing the conspiracy and opening the door to a mountain of other evidence against Vick. Taylor can establish the conspiracy all by himself, multiplying Vick's problems as he attempts to answer these charges.
The indictment, issued July 17, charged the four men with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. The maximum punishment is five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
As the scheme grew, according to the indictment, Taylor played a central role. When it was time to build three large sheds to stage fights and to house dogs and equipment, Taylor obtained the necessary permits from the authorities in Surry County. He applied for the building permit for the sheds on May 2, 2003, according to records maintained by Wallace Mavin, the Surry County Building Official, and he paid the necessary fees even though Vick's name was listed as the owner and the applicant. Taylor described himself as Vick's "agent," in the documents. The house and shed, according to applications filed in May 2003, cost $362,000.
Prosecutors claim Taylor, 34, of Hampton, also allegedly helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two dogs that fared poorly in test fights.
It will be powerful evidence against Vick, putting Vick and his money squarely in the middle of the scheme and its growth and development.
The charges in the indictment also show that Taylor can describe Vick as personally present at fights and at executions of dogs who did not perform well enough for Vick and his cohorts.
Taylor's plea of guilty comes at a critical time. Michael Gill, the assistant U.S. Attorney leading the prosecution, announced on Thursday that he would file a superceding indictment by the end of next month. The superceding indictment is likely to add charges to the gruesome charges already on file. Taylor made his bargain with the federal prosecutors before they were able to add anything to the charges already filed against him.
In addition to the tactical reasons for his plea, Taylor has been reported to feel that Vick betrayed him. Shortly after the first raid on the Vick fifteen-acre compound on Moonlight Road in Surry County, according to various reports, Vick had Taylor thrown off the property. It was part of Vick's effort to distance himself from the dogfighting operation, an effort that also includes a hasty sale of the property. The sale has not yet been finalized.
Even in the hearings on Thursday, Taylor was separating himself from Vick and the others. Vick, Phillips and Purnell Peace all appeared in court dressed in suits and ties. Taylor showed up in baggy, low slung jeans and a wrinkled yellow shirt. Vick, Phillips and Peace ignored Taylor during the short hearings and never looked at him as they gathered in the courtroom before the hearing began.ESPN's Kelly Naqi reported that according to sources, Taylor and Vick had a falling out in their relationship about three years ago.
ESPN.com's Lester Munson is a Chicago lawyer and journalist who has been reporting on investigative and legal issues in the sports industry for 18 years. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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VICK SENTENCED TO 23 MONTHS
Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and three years' probation for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Falcons quarterback is looking at a scheduled release of July 2009. Story
Update• GM: Falcons will attempt to trade Vick
• Lawyer: Vick might move to halfway house
• Former Vick estate fails to sell again
• Vick house fails to sell at auction
• Vick files for bankruptcy protection
• Prosecutor: Vick's Virginia trial can wait
• Vick ordered to repay Canadian bank $2.4 million
• Judge denies NFL motion to reverse Vick ruling
• Report: Vick not playing organized football in jail
• Report: Vick passes time with prison-yard football
• Vick's state dogfighting trial to begin June 27
• Munson: Vick yet to enter drug treatment
The sentence• Vick sent to Kansas to serve rest of sentence
• Vick asked judge for leniency before sentencing
• Vick sentenced to 23 months | Document (pdf)
• Poll: What do you think? | What they're saying
• Clayton: Sentence puts career in jeopardy
• Munson: Tough sentence by displeased judge
• Teammates show support at Falcons game
• Can Vick return to playing in NFL?
• Pasquarelli: No longer top of mind in Atlanta
• Last Vick co-defendant sentenced
• Podcasts : Cossack | Schlereth | Munson/Naqi | Pasquarelli
• Chat wrap: David Cornwell
Post Plea• NFL wants court to reverse Vick bonus ruling
• Victory for Vick: QB can keep $20 million bonus
• Fifth defendant in Vick case receives probation
• Vick's house for sale for $1.1M
• Some Falcons to visit Vick in prison
• PETA unveils new e-card
• Former Virginia estate fails to sell at auction
• Out of Falcons' sight, almost out of mind
• Judge's casework offers look at possible sentence
• Remaining dogs placed with rescue groups
• Source: Feds may push judge to up sentence
• NFLPA argues Vick should not lose roster bonus
• Vick co-defendants get 18, 21 months in prison
• Vick agrees to put up almost $1M for dogs' care
• Vick given April trial date on state charges
• Vick surrenders to begin serving sentence early
• Home at center of Vick dogfighting scandal sold
• Vick fires one of his lawyers in dogfighting case
• Man who sold Vick pit bull pleads guilty
• Man connected to Vick dogfight ring pleads guilty
• Third bank sues Vick, claims he defaulted on loan
• Arbiter: Falcons have right to reclaim bonuses
• PETA: Vick had class on animal cruelty
• Evaluations show 48 of Vick's dogs placeable
• Vick tests positive for marijuana
• Vick supporters turn out for town meeting
• Vick's apology notes fetch $10.2K at auction
Vick's Plea/NFL Suspension• Vick pleads guilty to federal dogfighting charge
• The plea (PDF) | Statement of facts (PDF)
• Vick's statement: Watch it | Read it
• Roger Cossack explains plea deal
• Poll: Vick should be banned
• Va. Tech, Beamer continue to support Vick
• Vick supporters drown out protesters
• NFL suspends Vick indefinitely | Goodell (PDF)
• Chris Mortensen on Vick's suspension
• Vick files plea agreement admitting to dogfighting
Indictment• Marbury's about-face: Vick 'is 100 percent wrong'
• National NAACP: Vick 'not a victim' | Audio
• Atlanta NAACP: Vick should be allowed to return
• Falcons come to terms with 'ex-teammate'
• Vick timeline | What they're saying
• Helyar: Even Atlanta turns against Vick
• Goodell: Vick not overshadowing season
• Vick co-defendant pleads guilty to charges
• Tony Taylor: Summary of Facts | Plea agreement
• Hometown residents stand by Vick
• Falcons had planned to suspend Vick
• Commish tells Vick to avoid camp
• Vick indicted | The indictment (pdf) | Civil arrest warrant (pdf)
Town Hall meeting• Town Hall chat wrap: Chadiha
Previous columns/analysis• Munson: Q&A on Vick reporting to prison early
• Munson: Looking at Judge Hudson
• Vick's high school learning lessons
• Bryant: Confounded by race issue
• Munson: Q&A about local indictment
• Munson: Next focus for Vick is length of sentence
• Schlabach: Vick an afterthought on VT campus
• Chadiha: Vick not running from truth
• Hill: Coverage means bigger issues ignored
• Wojciechowski: Pay attention to the fallen star
• Bryant: Vick's plea deal comes with baggage
• Bryant: In failing Vick, NFLPA fails itself
• Munson: Vick plea means surrender
• Forde: Vick's epic fall
• Pasquarelli: Major blow for Falcons
• Chadiha: Lots of lessons to be learned
• Wojciechowski: Punishment with teeth
• Easterbrook: Little sympathy?
• Clayton: Vick's NFL future might be bleak
• E-Ticket: A history of mistrust
• Chadiha: Vick's bad choices
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