Michael Vick's Co-Defendants Set To Enter Guilty Pleas In Dogfighting Case

Plea hearings for Michael Vick's two co-defendants in a Federal Dogfighting Conspiracy case will now be held back-to-back Friday morning.

The hearing for Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Va., had originally been set for 9 a.m. Thursday before U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. The case has been rescheduled for 9:15 a.m. Friday, 15 minutes after the hearing for Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta.

An entry on the court's docket did not give a reason for postponing Peace's hearing. However, the revised schedule will streamline proceedings in the high-profile cases.

Another co-defendant, Tony Taylor of Hampton, Va., has already pleaded guilty to his role in the dogfighting enterprise and agreed to testify against Vick, the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.

Prosecutors said at Taylor's plea hearing that they expected a superseding indictment against Vick this month. The threat of additional charges and testimony by three former partners in the alleged dogfighting operation increases the pressure on Vick to also negotiate a plea agreement, according to legal experts.

A statement of facts signed by Taylor as part of his plea agreement said Vick financed virtually all of the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting enterprise on Vick's property in Surry County, Va.

Vick, 27, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. His trial is scheduled for Nov. 26.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

A search of the Surry County property in April turned up dozens of pit bulls, some of them injured, as well as equipment commonly used in dogfighting.

The July 17 indictment said dogs that lost fights or fared poorly in test fights were sometimes executed by hanging, electrocution or other brutal means. The grisly details have fueled public protests against Vick and have cost him some of his lucrative endorsement deals.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from the Falcons' training camp while the league investigates.

Story Courtesy: CBS.sportsline.com & AP Wire Reports


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