Man involved in Vick dogfighting ring pleads guilty to charges

Updated: October 24, 2007, 9:33 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- A man who sold a champion pit bull to suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dogfighting operation pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal dogfighting charge.

Oscar Allen entered the plea to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to aid in illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting -- the same charge to which Vick and his three fellow defendants in the Bad Newz Kennels operation pleaded guilty. Vick is expected to be sentenced in December.

The 67-year-old Allen, from the Williamsburg area, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 25. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. He was released until sentencing with conditions, including a prohibition on buying or selling any dogs.

U.S. Attorney Michael R. Gill recommended that Allen spend no time in prison if he complies with conditions of the plea agreement, because Allen cooperated with the investigation, had no prior criminal record and had limited involvement with Bad Newz Kennels.

But U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said he isn't bound by that recommendation, and must take into account federal sentencing guidelines in the case.

As part of his plea, Allen admitted in a statement that he sold a female pit bull named Jane in 2001 to Bad Newz Kennels in rural Surry County, and traveled with Vick's dogfighting associates to Jane's fights.

In 2003, Bad Newz Kennels entered Jane in a "champion dog fight" -- meaning she was fighting for her third consecutive win. Jane won the "champion" purse in a fight over another female pit bull. The winning purse is not known, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

Allen also admitted to advising Vick and his co-defendants on managing and caring for Bad Newz Kennels pit bulls, and helping Vick and his associates pit their dogs against each other to determine which ones were good fighters.

Allen didn't help kill the six to eight dogs that failed to perform well, prosecutors said.

The details outlined in the indictment against Vick and related court filings fueled a public backlash against the Atlanta Falcons star and cost him several lucrative endorsement deals, even before he agreed to plead guilty to the dogfighting conspiracy charge.

In his plea, Vick admitted to helping kill the underperforming pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he didn't personally place any bets or share in any winnings.

The NFL suspended him indefinitely and without pay.

Vick and his co-defendants still face state felony dogfighting charges.

The local prosecutor in that case, Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter, represented Vick's father in a civil case four years ago, The Virginian-Pilot reported on its Web site Wednesday night.

In 2003, Poindexter, a part-time prosecutor who retains a private practice, filed a petition in Suffolk Circuit Court on behalf of Michael Boddie to have his driving privileges reinstated, according to court records obtained by the newspaper.

One of Vick's lawyers questioned whether it was appropriate for Poindexter to prosecute Vick after representing his father.

"I expressed those concerns to Mr. Poindexter both orally and in writing," Lawrence H. Woodward told the newspaper. "I still have those concerns, as do Michael's other attorneys."

Woodward declined to say if the defense team would ask a judge to disqualify Poindexter from the case.

Poindexter said he disclosed it to Woodward and was told it would not be a problem.

"He said, 'That's fine. That's of no real concern to me,'" Poindexter told the newspaper. "You have some kind of obligation, if there's anything that is remotely suggestive of some type of conflict or something, you raise it."

Woodward told the newspaper he disputed Poindexter's recollection of that discussion. Woodward didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press for elaboration.

Poindexter also did not answer calls to his home or cell phone Wednesday night.

Legal scholars told the Pilot that the situation didn't appear to present a conflict of interest.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press