Two of Michael Vick’s co-defendants in a professional dog fighting case pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court.
Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace pleaded guilty to charges related to dog fighting today. They both said all three men (Vick, Phillips, and Peace) “executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions” in April 2007 by methods such as hanging and drowning.
Both co-defendants said the money that financed the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting operation came “almost exclusively” from Vick.
Court documents, signed by Peace as part of his plea, also say there is a picture of Vick and the three co-defendants with a pit bull named Jane that they were about to sponsor in a dogfight in North Carolina four years ago. It is uncertain whether federal prosecutors have a copy of that photo.
In another document signed by Peace, prosecutors allege that Vick paid Peace $3,000 a month to take care of their pit bulls on Vick’s property in Surry County. Peace became the primary caretaker of the dogs after Tony Taylor, another co-defendant, left the operation.
In Peace’s summary of facts, he wrote: “All three participated in executing the dogs. Peace agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of Peace, Phillips and Vick.”
Both co-defendants pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to cross state lines to engage in illegal gambling; to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture; and to buy, transport and receive dogs for animal fighting.
Peace and Phillips will be sentenced on November 30.
Meanwhile, there is still no word of Vick and if he has accepted the plea deal. His deadline was today at 9 am. But it is still uncertain what his decision is.
If he accepts the deal, Vick will serve at least one year in prison on dog fighting conspiracy charges.
If Vick does not accept this plea deal, federal prosecutors have warned Vick that he will face an additional charge under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. If he is convicted of this charge, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Sources say that Vick’s attorneys have advised him to take the plea deal.
One of Vick’s attorneys sat through the hearings for Phillips and Peace and took notes.
Even though Vick’s name wasn’t on the judge’s schedule for today, sources say that Vick could still make a plea in an arrangement between his lawyers, the government and the court.
(Thanks to many reader tips)