In a whirlwind of speculation, disruption and disgust, the two-month media frenzy surrounding Falcons star QB Michael Vick has come to a head. On July 17, a federal grand jury indicted Vick on unlawful interstate commerce and for sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture.
According to the official press release, and as reported on ESPN, Vick faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for violation of the Travel Act as well as a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for participation in an animal fighting venture. The indictment included more defendants that Vick. Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor were also indicted on the same charges.
Court documents indicate that there is strong evidence at Vick's Surry, VA property to suggest that dogfighting has not only been occurring there, but that the QB has been participating since at least 2001. Dogfights have been sponsored, according to these documents, by "Bad Newz Kennels" at the property since at least 2002. The fights were so popular among the dogfighting audience that participants flew in from other states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York and Texas.
First brought to the attention of law enforcement during a raid of the Surry, VA house on April 25, the incident was not investigated further due to the Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter's objections to the wording of a search warrant. For nearly six weeks, little was done with the findings until federal authorities stepped in on June 7. With warrant in hand, several federal officials and U-Hauls arrived at the property and began raiding the premises for evidence.
Court documents outline the discovery of many pieces of equipment, as well as dogs both live and dead, that strongly suggest illegal activity. Fifty-four live pit bulls were recovered from the property in April, along with a "rape stand" used to hold dogs in place for mating, a treadmill modified for dogs and a bloodstained piece of carpeting.
A second search of the property was conducted on July 7.
On May 31, an anonymous source came forward to ESPN and discussed the involvement of the Falcons QB in dogfighting. The source alleges that Vick is a "heavyweight" and has been involved since before being drafted in 2000. The anonymous dogfighter has posed as an informant on dozens of dogfighting arrests over his thirty-year involvement in the activity. In the interview, it was also revealed that other players in the dogfighting industry were worried about Vick's involvement in this scandal. With millions of dollars and fame on the line, it is felt that Vick will give up other key players just to avoid prison time.
For more details about the dogfighting activities at the property, please read the ESPN article here.