Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick Pleads Guilty to Dogfighting Charges Nearly One Month After Massachusetts Senator Kerry Announces Efforts to Ban Dogfighting in the US

Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick has struck a deal with federal prosecutors that had him pleading guilty to dogfighting charges.

On Monday, Vick pled guilty to felony charges of conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture and conspiring to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities.

He faces a minimum of one year in prison. The charges from his indictment come with a $250,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison–although a plea agreement likely means that he will not receive the maximum sentence.

The NFL (National Football League) will also announce its own punishment for the football star. It has already barred Vick from attending the Falcons’ training camp. He will likely receive his sentencing at the end of November.

Three co-defendants have pled guilty also. They say that Vick “almost exclusively funded” the dogfighting/gambling venture. Quanis L. Phillips, one of the co-defendants, said that last April, he, Vick, and Purnell A. Peace (another co-defendant) killed eight dogs by drowning them or hanging them because they were not performing well during the fights.

Vick’s involvement in underground dogfighting has led to problems with some of his endorsement deals. Reebok stopped selling jerseys with his No. 7 on them, and Nike suspended an endorsement deal it had signed with Vick. At least two trading card companies are no longer making his card.

Last April, government officials raided a property in Surry County, Virginia that belonged to Vick. They found carpeting that was soaked in blood, modified treadmills that are used for canines, and 52 pit bulls. Vick, Tony Taylor, Quanis Phillips, and Purnell Peace were indicted on July 17.

Federal Crimes
Federal crimes are crimes that have been declared crimes by the U.S. Congress and not just by state bodies. Federal agencies are the ones involved in investigating a federal crime.

According to the Humane Society, dogfighting is against the law in every state and considered a felony crime in 48 of the states. Taking dogs across state lines so that they can participate in dogfighting is considered a federal crime.

Last month, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry introduced a bill to eliminate dogfighting in the United States. His bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act and upgrade existing federal dogfighting laws by:

• Removing the requirement that agents and prosecutors have to show that a dog crossed state lines to participate in a fight • Making it a federal crime to attend a dogfight as a spectator • Making it illegal to transport, sell, own, or train fighting dogs • Enhancing the penalty from three years to five years in prison
Falcons’ Vick Indicted In Dogfighting Case, Washington Post, August 18, 2007
Vick pleads guilty to dog-fighting charges, The Guardian Unlimited, August 21, 2007
Dogfighting Fact Sheet, The Humane Society
Kerry Bill Bans Dogfighting, John Kerry.com
Related Web Resources:
Read Senator Kerry’s Bill (PDF)

Vick in a Deal to Plead Guilty to Dogfighting, New York Times, August 21, 2007
Animal Welfare Act and Regulations

If you have been arrested on dogfighting charges, Altman & Altman LLP can help you. We have represented many persons accused of or charged with committing crimes throughout Massachusetts for over 40 years and we are known for our dedication to our clients and our ability to provide them with the best defense.

Contact Altman & Altman LLP to schedule your free consultation

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