August 17, 2007

• United States of America v. PURNELL A . PEACE , also known as "P-Funk" and "Funk," QUANIS L. PHILLIPS , also known as "Q," TONY TAYLOR , also known as "T," and MICHAEL VICK , also known as "Ookie," Defendants.

Peace, 35, Phillips, 28, and Taylor, 34, are acquaintances of Vick with ties to the area around the quarterback's hometown of Newport News, Va. Phillips played with Vick at Ferguson High and later worked for Vick's marketing company, MV7. Taylor's name was on the licenses for the Vick property on Moonlight Road in Surry County, Va., that is at the center of the investigation. Ookie is Vick's mother's nickname for him.

• In or about May 2001, TAYLOR identified the property at 1915 Moonlight Road, Smithfield, Virginia, as being a suitable location for housing and training pit bulls for fighting.... On or about June 29, 2001, VICK paid approximately $34,000 for the purchase of [that] property....

Vick, the first player taken in the 2001 NFL draft, bought the 15-acre property 51 days after signing a six-year, $62 million contract with the Falcons.

• In or about early 2002, VICK, accompanied by PEACE, purchased approximately 4pit bulls from Cooperating Witness Number 1 (C.W. #1) in Virginia.

Four cooperating witnesses are mentioned in the indictment, none of whom are identified. "I was surprised by the number of confidential witnesses," says William Frick, an attorney in South Carolina who in 2004 successfully prosecuted David Ray Tant, at the time considered the No. 2 dogfighter in the United States. "In drug cases, people talk all the time. But in dogfighting cases people don't talk unless you've got them over a barrel. You can have the dogs and all the equipment, but a guy can say he is just a breeder. Getting that witness is key."

• In or about early 2002, PEACE, PHILLIPS, TAYLOR, and VICK established a dog fighting business enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels." At one point, the defendants obtained shirts and headbands representing and promoting their affiliation with "Bad Newz Kennels."

Bad Newz is the street nickname for Vick's hometown. In the dogfighting subculture a brand name and a reputation make for better business.

• In or about the spring of 2002, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and TAYLOR traveled from Virginia to North Carolina with a male pit bull named "Seal" to participate in a dog fight against a male pit bull named "Maniac." ... [Bad Newz Kennels] lost the purse when "Maniac" prevailed over "Seal."

The indictment ­doesn't give blow-by-blow details of any fights, but it's reasonable to assume that Bad Newz and its opponents followed the so-called Cajun Rules, widely considered dogfighting's bylaws. Three of the 19 Cajun Rules prevent an owner from putting a substance on his dog that could impair an opponent. For example, Rule 15: "No sponging shall be allowed, and no towels or anything else taken into the pit by the handlers except a bottle of drink for his dog and a fan to cool him with. The handlers must taste their [dog's] drink before the referee to show that it contains no poison."

• In or about the fall of 2003, PEACE, PHILLIPS, TAYLOR, and VICK traveled from Atlanta, Georgia, to South Carolina with a male pit bull named "Magic" to participate in a dogfight against a male pit bull owned by individuals from South Carolina...

The majority of fights and incidents detailed in the indictment occurred during the spring or summer or at unspecified times of the year. In 2003, however, Vick allegedly attended two fights in the fall, his third NFL season, during which he missed the Falcons' first 11 games because of a broken right fibula. Several other fights are listed as having occurred "late" in a year, which also would have been during the NFL season.

• In or about late 2002, PEACE, PHILLIPS, TAYLOR ... traveled from Virginia to Maryland with a female pit bull named "Jane" to participate in a dog fight against a female pit bull owned by "Show Biz Kennels" of New York. The purse for the dog fight was established at approximately $1,000 per side, for a total of approximately $2,000.

As a dog racks up wins, the purses for its fights rise. In the case of Jane, a dog prominently mentioned in the indictment, the purses for her fights rose from $2,000 to $3,000 to $10,000 over the course of a year. A good fighting dog might have a hard time finding willing challengers in its area. Jane was allegedly taken to Maryland, North Carolina and New Jersey for fights, all of which she won.

• In or about March of 2003, VICK retrieved a book bag from a vehicle containing approximately $23,000 in cash. The cash was provided to [Cooperating Witness #2] as payment for winning both dog fight matches.

The two fights between dogs allegedly owned by Bad Newz and those of Cooperating Witness #2 had the highest purses, including the most lucrative fight -- a total purse of $26,000 -- and another for $20,000. On the 16 fights for which purses were given, $114,200 (not including side bets) was wagered, with Bad Newz Kennels winning $45,200 and losing $69,000. In December 2004, Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract, including a $37 million signing bonus -- the largest contract in NFL history.

• From in or about late 2004 through 2005 at various times ... PEACE, PHILLIPS, VICK, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury continued operation of the animal fighting venture at 1915 Moonlight Road and hosted approximately 10 dog fights....

Some 30 fights are mentioned in the indictment. Vick and/or others from Bad Newz Kennels allegedly participated in fights in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. Dogs from those states as well as from Texas, Alabama, Florida and New York fought at Moonlight Road, according to the indictment. The allegation that the enterprise crossed state lines elevates the charges to federal offenses. Vick could face additional charges at the state level, but not until September at the earliest. Dogfighting is a felony under Virginia law, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

• In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.

John Goodwin, animal-fighting expert for the Humane Society of the United States, says he has heard many tales of how dogfighters disposed of dogs who ­wouldn't fight but had never heard of someone "slamming" a dog into the ground until it was dead. "I assume these were young dogs," says Goodwin, "because the effort it would take to kill a full-grown fighting dog in this way would be incredible." Federal investigators reportedly found numerous dog carcasses on the Vick property.

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