By JEREMY REDMON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/17/07
Richmond, Va. â€” Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's attorney took notes in a federal courtroom this morning as his client became the last man standing in his federal dogfighting case.
Co-defendants Quanis Philips, 28, of Atlanta, and Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy related to dogfighting, joining a third co-defendant Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va., who entered a guilty plea last month.
Attorney Lawrence Woodward, who sat with reporters in the jammed courtroom and later talked to defense and prosecuting attorneys, declined to comment afterward on whether Vick would join the others in taking a plea deal.
Court documents released in the pleadings didn't appear to help Vick's case as he confronts a Friday deadline to reach his own plea agreement or possibly face additional charges when a federal grand jury meets next week, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Vick posed for a photo with three co-defendants and a female pit bull they were about to sponsor in a dogfight in North Carolina four years ago, according to a 12-page summary of facts Peace signed as part of his plea.
That document says Peace, Vick and two other co-defendants â€“ who referred to themselves as "Bad News Kennels" â€” traveled from Virginia to North Carolina with a female pit bull named "Jane" to participate in a dogfight against another pit bull owned by an organization called "Lockjaw Kennels."
"Prior to this fight," the statement says," all four 'Bad News Kennels' members took a picture with 'Jane.' "
It is unclear whether federal prosecutors have a copy of that photo.
In a separate 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 rural Surry County. Peace became the primary caretaker of the dogs after Taylor left the operation following a disagreement with Phillips, the statement says.
Both Peace and Phillips 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.
The two men will be sentenced on Nov. 30. Taylor has a sentencing date of Dec. 14.
Phillips remained in federal custody for violating his parole, testing positive for drugs. During his hearing, Judge Henry E. Hudson referred to how Phillips also had two prior convictions for drug distribution and one for drug possession. Peace was released. Their attorneys declined to comment outside the courthouse.
Vick, who has been banned by the NFL pending a league review of the case, is scheduled for a Nov. 26 trial. His attorneys have been negotiating a plea agreement, sources with knowledge of the negotiations told the AJC this week.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have warned Vick that he must agree to a plea deal today or face more serious charges next week, including racketeering, as part of a superseding indictment that could be announced before the end of this month, the sources said. Next week, a federal grand jury in Richmond is expected to begin hearing those new charges against Vick.
Animal rights activists demonstrated outside of the courthouse Friday.
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