|Who, age||What||Where||When||Last Known Address|
|Michael Dwayne Vick, aka"Ookie" and "Ron Mexico||Dogfighting||
|April 25, 2007|
|C.J. Reamon, Jr.(2)||Dogfighting||
|April 25, 2007|
|Prunell Peace aka "P-Funk" and "Funk"||Dogfighting||
|April 25, 2007|
|Tony Taylor aka "T"||Dogfighting||
|April 25, 2007|
|Quanis Phillips aka "Q"||Dogfighting||
|April 25, 2007|
|Type of Crime||Other Crimes||#/Type of animal(s) involved||Case Status||Next Court Date /Courthouse|
(2) illegal firearms
illegal gambling, drug possession
(Photo courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, age 27, was served a search warrant for property he owned at 1915 Moonlight Rd. A state taskforce went to the property and discovered 3 buildings behind the home that housed several dogs. The dogs appeared to be hungry and forgotten. The case was uncovered as a result of a drug investigation involving Vick's cousin, Davon Boddie, age 26. Boddie listed the property as his address after being arrested on a drug charge in April. 66 dogs were found, 55 of them pit bulls.
Reports indicated that Vick was allegedly running a dogfighting operation from the back of the home. The Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce was called in as it was also reported that Vick had been under investigation for several years for illegal animal fighting. Dogfighting is a felony in Virginia, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. It is banned nationwide and a felony in 48 states. Vick has denied any involvement in the dogfighting and blamed relatives for taking advantage of his generosity. Vick also claimed he had never been to the home, even though he owns it. (See the helicopter video of the case at video) (Note video is choppy and has no sound).
(Photo courtesy from the Virginian-Pilot) (Photo courtesy of Steve Helber/The Associated Press)
Note: the white brick home at 1915 Mountain Rd sits across the street from a small Baptist church and next to a narrow road that winds through farm fields in northern Surry County. The nearest house is about 100 yards away, beyond a thick grove of trees. A white fence wraps around the property. Behind the house, a compound of kennel buildings sits behind a tall, chain-link fence, surrounded by thick woods. The 2 buildings are painted black. The windows are covered in black plastic. Narrow pathways run between the buildings and the chain-link dog pens near the back of the compound. The property consists of 15-acres.
(Photo's courtesy of Mort Fryman/the Associated Press) (Photo courtesy of John H. Sheally, II/the Associated Press)
This case has become much larger than a football player and cruelty to dogs and has dominated talk radio, cable news, email, websites and newspapers all summer long. (See video1 (Note with sound).
Vick's inner circle is made up of at least 5 people who have had run in's with the law. His younger brother Marcus, was a star quarterback at Virginia Tech, was kicked off the football team following a series of legal and on-field problems, and later left school. Bad Newz Kennel associate C.J. Reamon Jr. has 3 convictions related to illegal firearms for airport security incidents including an incident in August when he was caught carrying a loaded .357-caliber Glock into the Newport News-Williamsburg Terminal. Tony Taylor and Quanis Phillips who have been indicted along with Vick have had drug-related brushes with the law. In 1992 Taylor received a 2 year sentence in the Bronx for drug-trafficking. He served 7 months in a NY state prison before being paroled on 2/18/93. Taylor was arrested in Newport News on cocaine possession charges in 1996; the case was dismissed after he completed a substance-abuse program and following 1 year of good behavior. And on April 10, 2007, Sandy Springs police arrested him on a domestic violence battery charge. He was released on $500 bond. Phillips played football with Vick in high school and is listed as a contact to call to buy a dog for Vick's K9 Kennels. And his cousin Davon T. Boddie whose 2 drug arrests this year led to the dogfighting charges.
(Photo courtesy of John H. Sheally II/The Virginian-Pilot) (Photo's courtesy of Todd Spender/The Virginian-Pilot)
Vick formally plead guilty to dogfighting charges on August 27, and will be sentenced December 10th by US District Judge Henry Hudson. Federal guidelines suggest a 12-18 month sentence but Judge Hudson is not required to follow these guidelines and could jail Vick for up to 5 years. Had Vick not plead guilty and rejected the deal, he would have faced additional charges under the Federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of up to 20 years in prison.
(Photo courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot) At his plea hearing, Judge Henry E. Hudson, a dog owner himself, warned Vick he was taking his chances and would have to live with whatever decision he makes. US District Judge Hudson is known in legal circles as a jurist who rarely grants defendants leniency and who also rarely sees his cases overturned on appeal. Judge Hudson is a no-nonsense judge, who moves his cases along quickly, is tough and fair and holds the attorneys to strick speedy-trial rules.
After the hearing Vick apologized to the public and admitted he had to grow up and said he had found Jesus. "I want to apologize for all the things I have done and have allowed to happen", "I am ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least", Vick stated.
This case has brought to the forefront the sordid underground practice of dogfighting in the US but Vick's supporters believe he has been demonized well beyond the crime committed. Under federal law, dogfighting was a misdemeanor when investigators searched Vick's property on April 25th. 8 days later, President Bush signed a bill that made it a felony. Under the old federal law, dogfighting carried a maximum prison sentence of 1 year per animal. The new law raised that to a maximum of 3 years in prison. Under Virginia law, participating in dogfights is a felony punishable by as many as 5 years in prison. When interstate gambling, drugs or dogfighting laws are involved, the federal government has a very strong interest in investigating and will typically involve state agencies in their investigation. Federal involvement is often a help in unraveling complicated issues because federal grand juries are set up to investigate possible crimes while state grand juries just decide whether law enforcement officials have sufficient evidence to issue indictments. Also Federal grand juries can compel witnesses to testify under the threat of perjury if they don't tell the truth. The IRS might also get involved in these cases if federal taxes are not paid on profits from the dogfighting enterprise. The federal government might also be interested in racketeering charges if any of the people involved in a dogfighting ring were convicted of similar crimes in the past. This involvement is the norm, not the exception.
In Vick's written plea agreement, Vick admitted to providing most of the money for the fight training and gambling operation on his property in Surry County, VA which he purchased in June 2001 and sold shortly after the raid. His agreement also made it clear he was present when 6-8 dogs were killed after fighting poorly. Vick's plea agreement can be read by clicking on the following link Vick plea agreement
Under the terms of the agreement, Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend sentencing at the low end of the guideline range. Meanwhile the defendants are all free without bond. Taylor, will be required to submit to periodic drug testing, while Pease and Phillips were ordered to submit to testing as well as an electronic monitoring program. Neither drug testing nor monitoring were ordered for Vick. Each defendant must surrender their passports, cannot travel outside their immediate area without prior approval and are prohibited from selling or possessing dogs. Vick was ordered to surrender all animal breeder and kennel licenses.
The summary of facts stated Vick was aware 4 dogs were killed in 2002 and 6-8 dogs were killed in April, 2007 as a result of the "collective efforts" of Vick and 2 of his co-defendants. Vick's summary of facts document can be read by clicking on the following link Vick Summary of Facts.
Vick's dogfighting business known as Bad Newz Kennels began in 2002 with Taylor 34 of Hampton, VA, Phillips, 28 of Atlanta and Peace, 35 of Virginia Beach. The dogs were "rolled" or "tested" by putting them through fighting sessions to determine which ones were good fighters. Those that did not perform well were executed. According to Taylor's summary (Taylor's Summary of Facts) Peace and Phillips, a childhood friend of Vick's, each shot at least 1 dog after those testing sessions. Taylor shot 1 and electrocuted another, according to his summary. The summary also stated that most of the operation and gambling money was provided by Vick and all defendants claimed purses when their dogs won fights. Taylor's plea agreement was filed on 7-30-07 (Taylor) and will be sentenced on December 14th. Taylor, just 4 days earlier had originally plead not guilty. Taylor agreed to fully cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Vick, Peace and Phillips. Taylor will probably receive a lighter sentence because of his cooperation and that is why his sentencing is scheduled for after the other 3 defendants. Taylor used his winnings for living expenses and back into the fighting operation to pay for food, medicine and supplies. Taylor played a major role in the operation in May 2001 by identifying the Surry County property as a suitable location for housing and training the dogs and signed the articles of incorporation for a business based at the property called MV7 LLC, Vick's initials and jersey number. There was a website http://www.VicksK9Kennels.com (Note: the website has been taken down) that advocates the breeding of pit bulls and presa canarios, and is linked to Vick's company MV7, LLC. The website also stated it sells pit bulls but "We do not promote, support or raise dogs for fighting and will not sell, give, or trade any dog that may be used for fighting". In 2004 and 2006 Surry County records show that kennel licenses were purchased in the name of Tony Taylor for 40-50 dogs. Taylor left the business after a disagreement with Phillips in September 2004.
Charles W. "C.J." Reamon Jr., the nephew of Vick's former high school coach, paid the $50 fee to renew the kennel license in January 2006. Reamon has been arrested twice on charges related to airport security. In 2002, he was one of 21 Norfolk International Airport employees charged with lying about their criminal records on security-clearance applications, in a federal sting operation called "Operation Plane View". Reamon had worked as a Delta Airline baggage handler. Reamon plead guilty to entering an aircraft or airport area in violation of security requirements and was fined $100. Before his guilty plea, he told a federal judge that he was a "financial advisor" to Vick. In August 2006, Reamon was arrested in Newport News for carrying a gun in an airport. He was found guilty in October and received a 6-month suspended sentence.
Over the years, Bad Newz Kennels also bought several fighting dogs that came from all over the country, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Florida, Arizona and Texas.
One of the earliest fights, in the spring of 2002, involved a $500 wager with a dog owner from NC. In March 2003, Peace and Vick sponsored a fight with bets of $13,000 per side, according to the indictment (Indictment document). In April 2007, Vick, Peace and Phillips executed 8 dogs that performed poorly in another testing session according to the Summaries of Facts from Peace (Peace) and Phillips (Phillips). Peace (Peace Plea) and Phillips (Phillips Plea) plead guilty to dogfighting charges on August 17th. They will be sentenced on November 30th. Peace was freed on bail but Phillips is in violation of the terms of his release by failing a drug test and was ordered to remain in jail. Phillips is also on probation for a drug conviction in Atlanta, and the guilty plea could mean more jail time in that case.
Photo's of the others indicted are Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips
(Photo's courtesy of Eva Russo/the Associated Press)
The Bad Newz Kennel dogs were fought against other groups, including the "Junior Mafia" of North Carolina, "Show Biz Kennels" of New York and "Hard Core Kennel's according to the indictment and the dogs carried names such as "Maniac, Magic, Chico and Jane".
Vick, Peace, Phillips and Taylor were indicted by a federal jury in a dog-fighting ring on July 17, 2007. The indictments are for conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aide of unlawful activities ("Travel Act") and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture, in violation of federal law. A conviction on the Travel Act conspiracy charge, is 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and full restitution. On the animal fighting conspiracy charge, each defendant faces 1 year in prison, a $100,000 fine or both. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking recovery of any property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of these offenses.
Also as part of his plea agreement, Vick has agreed to aid the government by testifying on its behalf at any grand jury, trials or other proceedings.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imposed an indefinite suspension on Vick on August 24th. Commissioner Goodell's letter can be read by clicking on the following link Goodell Letter to Vick. The NFL's recently toughened player conduct policy empowers Goodell to fine, suspend or impose a lifetime ban on a player for criminal behavior. For example, Goodell suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for the 2007 season after he was arrested 5 times since being drafted in 2005. Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengal's was suspended for 8 games this year after a 14-month span where he was arrested 4 times and served a previous 2-game suspension for his behavior. Tank Johnson, was also suspended for 8 games for a probation violation related to a gun charge. The Chicago Bears defensive tackle (Johnson) was released in June after he was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Vick's, the ex-Virginia Tech football star, has a $130 million contract with the Falcons was fined $10,000 by the NFL last season and donated another $10,000 to charity for flashing an obscene hand gesture to heckling Atlanta fans as he walked off the field following a Falcon's loss.
In its 2005 list of the 100 most powerful celebrities, Forbers Magazine ranked Michael Vick No. 33. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback had recently signed a 10-year, $130 million contract that included a $30 million bonus and had endorsement deals with Nike, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Rawlings, Air Tran Airways, EA Sports, Powerade and Hasbro. Two years later, before the latest problems, Vick's appeal was plunging. Vick's negatives were rising and his positive ratings falling. Donruss, one of 4 major trading card companies, has decided to pull Vick's card from any future 2007 releases. Donruss is owned by Ann Powell, whose 5 dogs accompany her to work every day and have virtually free reign inside the company's headquarters.
Vick has had other run ins with the law. A sordid lawsuit accused Vick of knowingly infecting a woman in 2003 with a sexually transmitted disease using the alias "Ron Mexico" while seeking treatment. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2005. In January, security officers at Miami International Airport seized a water bottle from Vick that they said smelled of marijuana and had a hidden compartment. Authorities later said there were no drugs in the bottle and Vick explained that he used the secret compartment to carry jewelry. In a 2001 profile by The Sporting News, Vick revealed having a pit bull that already had produced 1 litter and said he was trying to start a breeding kennel.
PETA has asked Home Depot Founder and Falcons owner Arthur Blank to suspend Vick pending the investigation and "to kick him off the team if it is found that the dogs on Vick's property were neglected or used for fighting". The HSUS stated they would take a similar stand if criminal charges were filed against Vick.
Other protests over this case comes from American Icons owner, Brian Gray who has removed a Vick autographed photo that once hung on the walls of his memorabilia shop. He encouraged equally outraged community members to follow suit. Throughout the month of August, customers can bring in their Vick merchandise, including trading cards, T-shirts, photos and jerseys to join in the demolition festivities. Gray stated "We see this as a grassroots opportunity for the sports fan and animal lovers everywhere to say enough is enough".
The Long Beach CA Armada minor league baseball team held a "Michael Vick Animal Awareness Day", where fans brought a Vick shirt or jersey to be thrown into a bonfire received free admission and a donation in their name to a local animal rights organization.
In Baltimore officials announced a new multi-agency taskforce to crack down on dogfighting in the city.
In Texas, beginning September 1, the penalty for dogfighting increases from a Class A misdemeanor to a state felony and punishment for attending a dog fight increases from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor.
A bill that would have upgraded aggravated cruelty to animals to felony status in Wyoming died in the state Senate during the 2007 session. HB49 would have made animal fighting a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 2 years and/or a fine of up to $5000. The bill passed the House by a majority vote of 35-25, then went to a Senate subcommittee which approved the bill and placed it on the Senate General File where it died.
Federal prosecutors announced they could be seeking a "superceding" indictment before the end of August, meaning they could identify additional charges or defendants in the case. Authorities found numerous dogfighting related items on Vicks property, including sheds and kennels, treadmills used to condition dogs, a rape stand" used to restrain aggressive female dogs during breeding and a "break"stick used to pry open a dog's mouth during fights. 54 pit bulls were found, some with scars and other injuries consistent with dog fights.
Nike suspended Vick's endorsement contract without pay and Reebok halted sales of Vick's replica jerseys at retail stores and through its website. Air Tran Airways has ended its relationship with Vick, who had been a pitchman for the airline since 2004. Vicks contract ended May 8th and was not renewed because of several off-field incidents. Especially stinging to Air Tran, was that Vick's publicist blamed the airline when the quarterback failed to arrive in Washington to speak before Congress. Air Tran said Vick had ample opportunities to get to his destination on Air Tran but chose not to and placed the blame on them.
Vick will still get his pre-season pay from the Falcon's. Players receive $1,110 per week from the beginning of camp until the first week of the regular football season. Vick's salary for this season would have been $6 million. When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely and without pay, it opened the doors for the Atlanta Falcon's to "assert any claims or remedies" to recover $22 million of Vick's signing bonus because Vick is now in default of his contract for engaging in personal conduct reasonably judged to adversely affect or reflect on the team.
For now Vick will remain on the Falcon's roster, because in order to collect the signing bonus money, it has to be done through a collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. If Atlanta receives payment, that money will be applied to the salary cap for 2008. That would provide a huge windfall of cap space for the Falcons to use in pursuing free agent players. Being on the roster does not mean the Falcons will have to pay Vick his base salary. Being placed on the suspended list will allow the Falcons to add a player in Vick's place.
If the Falcons terminate Vick's contract, he will lose $71 million in salary over the next 7 years. He also figures to lose as much as $50 million in endorsement income over the next decade. When Vick signed with the Falcon's team owner Arthur Blank called him "A Falcon for life" after he signed the largest contract in league history. The contract calls for Vick to receive a salary of $6 million this season, followed by $7.5 million in 2008, $9 million in 2009, $10.5 million in 2010, $12 million in 2011, $12.5 million in 2012 and $13.5 million in 2013, plus incentive bonuses.
(Photo's courtesy of Gary C. Knapp/Special to the Virginian-Pilot)
In an effort to obtain custody of the 53 pit bulls, federal officials laid out in court papers details of an extensive interstate dogfighting ring. Legal experts said the civil action was the quickest way to get control of the dogs, to keep them safe and as evidence of the crime. See Civil Cover Sheet, Property Seizure Warrant and Forfeiture document for further details. A civil action does not require a grand jury, the prosecutor simply files suit, and once a judge renders relief, the marshals have the authority to seize the dogs immediately. Dogs sized from fighting cases often become targets of theft, some fetching as much as $30,000. The dogs are being housed in kennels in 4 counties, with Surry County taxpayers paying up to $25,000 for their care until the case is over. 14 of the dogs are in Surry, 3 of them had scars to the face, head, ears, chest and front legs and another was taken to the veterinarian immediately because of a birth defect.
(Photo courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot) 66-year-old Gerald G. Poindexter is the county's part-time and lone commonwealth's attorney. Critics charge that Poindexter, who is black, is dragging his feet because of Vick's status as a popular black celebrity. Poindexter says he refuses to be bullied by outsiders or pressured to bring unwarranted charges. Poindexter had inadvertently taken center stage over this case. Poindexter refused to execute a search warrant at Vick's 15-acre property to dig for some 30 dogs purported to be buried on the property. Poindexter said he didn't like the wording in the warrant.
Poindexter may be reluctant to execute the additional search warrant because of a previous dog-fighting case in Surry County that ended when the judge dismissed it saying the search had violated the defendants rights. Poindexter has said he considered it a mistake in moving too quickly and didn't want to do that again. The first search warrant of Vick's property was for a drug investigation after Vick's cousin, who lived at the Moonlight Road address, was arrested on a drug charge in April .
On June 7th, federal investigators, accompanied by state and county authorities searched Vick's property for a 2nd time with a warrant looking for dog carcasses. The search lasted at least 8 hours and involved a backhoe and a U-Hall truck to collect evidence. They found the remains of 7 pit bulls that had been killed. The Federal document was filed in court so authorities could take custody of the 53 pit bulls seized from the property in April.
Vick owns other property in the area. A home in Suffolk's posh Riverfront subdivision is where his mother lives. Also under construction is a home in Governor's Point, an upscale neighborhood on the Nansemond River. When Vick bought the property on Moonlight Road he put a double-wide mobile home on the 15 acres and later built the palatial white brick house.
The Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force (VAFTF) assisted the Virginia State Police and Meherring Drug Task Force with the search warrant on Vick's property on 4/25/07. At the time the evidence seized included:
a number of injured Pit bull dogs - 30 of which were tied to heavy chains attached to car axles buried in the ground bloody strips of carpeting animal fighting paraphernalia including treadmills or slat mills for conditioning a scale with a hook on it to weigh dogs vitamins, dietary and red blood cell supplements to enhance the dogs' condition a diuretic to stimulate urination after a fight animal training and breeding equipment assorted paperwork documenting involvement in animal fighting ventures performance enhancing drugs used to increase the fighting potential in dogs and to keep injured dogs fighting longer other drugs and antibiotics to treat wounds, including syringes guns, illegal ammunition clips, including a gold-metal 45-caliber pistol marijuana
Other agencies involved in this case included:
|Chesapeake ACO||ACO's from Surry, Isle of Wight & Southampton|
|USDA Inspector General||US Attorney's Office|
|Surry County Sheriff's Office||US Marshall's|
|Richmond Police||Hanover County Animal Shelter|
Update May, 2007:
Peace, called the Surry County Sheriff's Office to report a break-in and theft of TVs and other furniture at Vick's Moonlight Road property.
Update July 17, 2007:
Davon T. Boddie, age 27, Michael Vick's cousin (who was the subject of the original search warrant) waived his preliminary hearing on a marijuana possession charge. Boddie was arrested on April 20th in the parking lot of Royal Suite, a nightclub near the Wal-Mart on Cunningham Drive in Hampton. 3 ounces of marijuana were found in his vehicle, and he was charged with possession with intent to sell. Boddie has been out on bail since his arrest. Boddie is also scheduled for a hearing in Newport News on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges stemming from a an arrest made days before his April 20th arrest.
Update August 15, 2007:
As if Vick didn't have enough troubles, a SC inmate has hit Vick with a $63 billion dollar lawsuit alleging Al Qaeda ties. Jonathan Lee Riches filed the handwritten complaint over "theft and abuse of my animals on July 23rd in the US District Court in Richmond, VA. Riches alleges Vick stole 2 white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, FL and used them for a dogfighting operations in Richmond, VA. The complaint goes on to allege that Vick sold the dogs on eBay and used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government after pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year. Riches wants $63 billion "backed by gold and silver" delivered to the front gates to the Williamsburg Federal Correctional Facility in SC. Riches is an inmate at the facility serving out a wire fraud conviction. The case is listed as civil action # 3:07CV434 filed with the Clerk of the US District Court in Richmond VA on 7/23/07. View the link at JLRich lawsuit.
Update August 24, 2007:
(Photo courtesy of Joe Fudge/the Daily Press) No one claimed ownership of the dogs, so they now by default, become the property of the federal government. The ASPCA will lead a team of animal behavior experts in evaluating the dogs removed from Vick's property. Based on these evaluations, recommendations will be made to the USDA regarding the disposition of the dogs. It is estimated that the evaluations will take about 3 weeks. After the evaluation, the US Attorney's Office will make a recommendation to the court on what to do with the dogs. Read the US Attorney Statement of 8/27/07.
Animal Welfare groups from all over the US have offered to help with the dogs. Both PETA and HSUS have recommended euthanasia as the only option for dogs trained to fight. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, offered rehabilitation and its 33,000-acre property as a new home for some of the pit bulls. Best Friends stated "We strongly feel that some of these dogs can be rehabilitated, perhaps not to the point where they could be adopted by families, but to the point where they have a chance to live a fairly normal existence without the threat of every again being exposed to fighting". Bobbie Gribble, president of Animal Rescue of Tidewater, said there are trainers and "dog whisperers" across the country willing to rehabilitate the dogs.
11 dogs which had been at the Surry County Shelter were transferred to the Hanover County animal shelter. 2 of the pit bulls have died while in Surry County custody according to court papers filed by the USDA inspector general. The remaining dogs are at shelters in the cities of Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hopewell and Sussex County.
Update August 27, 2007:
(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press) Vick apologized to the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons for "using bad judgment and making bad decision" and voiced to redeem himself after pleading guilt to a dogfighting charge
"First I want to apologize for all the things that I've done and that I have allowed to happen". Vick apologized and admitted he had to grow up and said he had found Jesus.
Vick signed a plea agreement to 1 federal charge relating to dogfighting conspiracy in Virginia. He will be sentenced on December 10, 2007. (See the video of Vick's apology at apology).
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