Virginia grand jury indicts Vick on dogfighting-related charges
SUSSEX, Va. -- Michael Vick, already looking at a federal prison term for bankrolling a dogfighting operation in rural Virginia, now faces two state charges that could get him more prison time if he's convicted.
After a Surry County grand jury indicted the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three co-defendants Tuesday, Vick's lawyers indicated they will fight the state charges on the grounds that he can't be convicted twice of the same crime.
The NFL star, scheduled for sentencing Dec. 10 after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, faces state charges of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. Arraignments are set for Oct. 3.
The grand jury declined to indict the 27-year-old Vick and two co-defendants on eight additional counts of killing or causing to be killed a companion animal, felonies that would have exposed them to as many as 40 years in prison if convicted.
Vick defense attorney Billy Martin said in a statement that the state counts concern "the same conduct covered by the federal indictment for which Mr. Vick has already accepted full responsibility."
Martin said he will "aggressively protect his rights to ensure that he is not held accountable for the same conduct twice."
Vick was convicted of a federal conspiracy count while the state indictment deals with the act of dog fighting, said Steven Benjamin, a Richmond defense lawyer who is not involved in the case. The prosecution will argue that's enough of a difference to allow the charges to proceed, he said.
Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter had told The Associated Press on Monday night that he would seek indictments on different crimes than the ones Vick admitted to in federal court. He did not elaborate to reporters outside court Tuesday.
The charges are the first leveled against Vick in the county where he built a home that became the base of the dogfighting operation, where local investigators first uncovered evidence of the enterprise.
None of the defendants nor their lawyers were at the Sussex County courthouse, where the grand jury met because the courthouse in neighboring Surry County is closed for renovations.
Poindexter told reporters he was not disappointed the grand jury passed on the eight additional dog killing counts.
"I'm just glad to get this to the position where it is now and, one day in the not too distant future, we will be rid of these cases," he said.
In a written statement, Poindexter and Sheriff Harold Brown attempted to diffuse in advance any suggestion that race influenced the grand jury. Brown, Poindexter and the four defendants are black, as are four of the six grand jurors.
"These are serious charges, and we can assure you that this grand jury was not driven by racial prejudice, their affection or lack of affection for professional athletes, or the influence of animal rights activists and the attendant publicity," the statement said.
In pleading guilty to the federal charges last month, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight dogs, among other things. He faces up to five years in prison.
Vick's co-defendants had pleaded guilty earlier and detailed Vick's role in the grisly enterprise.
In the state case, co-defendant Purnell Peace was indicted on one count of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and one count of engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Quanis Phillips was indicted on one count of engaging in or promoting dogfighting.
Tony Taylor, who left the enterprise several years ago and was the first to plead guilty, faces the most serious state charges -- three counts of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and one count of engaging in or promoting dogfighting.
Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said the team had no comments on the new charges.
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 local 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, 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.
Vick has been indefinitely suspended without pay by the NFL and been dropped by all his major sponsors, including Nike.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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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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