YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Vick indicted in Virginia

September 26, 2007|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Michael Vick's legal problems are far from resolved.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons star and three co-defendants were indicted Tuesday by a Virginia grand jury on state charges related to a dogfighting ring operated on a property the quarterback owned in rural Surry County.

The development could mean extra jail time for the player, who was scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10 after pleading guilty last month in federal court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge.

Once among the NFL's most marketable and popular players, Vick has been suspended indefinitely by the league.

The latest indictment involves one count of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs, and one count of engaging or promoting dogfighting. Each count is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Vick defense attorney Billy Martin indicated in a statement he would fight the state charges on the grounds that his client couldn't twice be convicted of the same crime.

However, legal experts said the state would argue that its case hinged on the actual dogfighting, whereas the federal case was for conspiracy.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, said it was unusual to be simultaneously prosecuted in both the federal and state systems.

"But," he added, "it's not unprecedented, and it's not terribly surprising to see this happening."

The grand jury did not indict Vick or his co-defendants for killing animals even though in the federal case they admitted to killing poor-performing dogs by means such as drowning, hanging or electrocution.

Vick's co-defendants are Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach; Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta; and Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va. Each of them also pleaded guilty last month to federal charges.

County Atty. Gerald G. Poindexter asked that each be arraigned Oct. 3, and requested that each be released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond. Although he earlier said he would present more than 10 state bills of indictment against Vick, Poindexter told reporters Tuesday he was "satisfied" with the two counts.

"I'm just glad to get this into the position it is now," said Poindexter, clearly agitated while surrounded by reporters. "And one day in the not-too-distant future, we'll be rid of these cases."

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, says there has been positive fallout from the Vick case. He said dogfighting arrests have tripled; a federal anti-dogfighting bill has been introduced in Congress; and representatives from the three states with the weakest anti-dogfighting laws -- Idaho, Wyoming and Georgia -- are pushing for harsher penalties.

"This shows that if you get involved in this criminal conduct, then you're going to face some terrible consequences," Pacelle said in a telephone interview. "Michael Vick has lost his contracts, and he's had federal and state charges brought against him. That's a clear message right there."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Los Angeles Times Articles