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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Michael Vick Indicted: Who Let the Dogs Out (of State)?

Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick was indicted earlier this afternoon by a federal grand jury in connection with the alleged dogfighting ring at his property in Smithfield, Virginia. According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Vick and several others were indicted for conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. Apparently, he faces a maximum of six years in prison and a fine of $300,000. The interstate commerce derives from participants and pit bulls traveling to Virginia from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas and other states, for the express purpose of commercialized pit bull fighting. Had the fighting ring featured local participants and local pit bulls, Vick wouldn't be dealing with this charge.

The court documents also describe grotesque conditions at the property, including a "rape stand," used to hold dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified for dogs; a bloodied piece of carpeting; and evidence of dogs not being fed as a way of making them angrier. Other details are available here, and you can read the indictment in its entirety here. In short, the dogs were badly abused.

Keep in mind, however, Vick's involvement with the dog fighting has been a source of great speculation, and he has denied any knowledge. Nevertheless, the indictment--take it for what it is--paints Vick as a very active participant, including:
9. In or about early 2002, Vick [and another defendant] purchased approximately four pit bulls from Cooperating Witness 1.

10. In or about early 2002, Vick [and other defendants] established a dog fighting business enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels."

12. In or about February 2002, Vick [and other defendants] "rolled" or "tested" some of their fighting dogs against other dogs . . . "rolling" or "testing" a fighting dog means placing a dog in a short fighting match to determine how well the animal fights.
One point of caution: an indictment by a federal grand jury is far from a conviction. I distinctly remember my criminal investigations professor, Charles Whitebread, making this point over and over again. Grand jury hearings are typically secret and one-sided in favor of the government. The prosecutor decides which witnesses to call and which witnesses receive immunity. The basic questioning is done by the prosecutor, and the defendant doesn't even have a right to have his or her attorney present. Even worse for the defendant, an indictment only requires "probable cause," meaning more likely than not--a far cry from "beyond a reasonable doubt" for a criminal conviction. There has been much criticism of grand juries as unfair devices for the prosecution, and that they have been misused as tools to shame defendants, especially in high-profile cases.

Still, it will be interesting to see what the NFL does in response to the indictment and how the NFLPA responds to the NFL, if it elects to suspend or otherwise punish Vick.


Initially, I didn't think enough evidence would be presented to indict Vick. But now that many witnesses and corroborating evidence has surfaced, it definitely doesn't look good for the one-time face of the NFL.

Blogger Jarrett Carter -- 7/18/2007 1:09 AM  

I'm wondering how many charges listed here may be dropped due to statute-of-limitations problems; a lot of the points in the indictment are dated 2001 or 2002, and I wonder if there are time limits to filing these charges?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/18/2007 9:49 AM  

I understand also indicted was a ham sandwich.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/18/2007 11:29 AM  

Screw Mike Vick. I admit it, I'm borderline radical when it comes to animals but if what they claim he did in this indictment is true, Vick deserves to be put in jail for the rest of his life. They should put Vick in a cage with one of those dogs and see what comes out.

I'm done with the NFL if they don't act on this guy. No way you have this type of person in your league and expect fans to pay to watch him perform.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/18/2007 12:54 PM  

Interesting thoughts regarding the statute of limitations here- I don't think anything under 10 years is beyond presectution, particularly a crime of moral turpitude.

It doesn;t need ot be said but a Federal Indictment is very serious, and if convicted I can't see him not doing some time. Witness credibility and what they can avctually link him to will be key in this case, but the Travel Act gives the Feds much more leeway to make a case.

Bad day if you have Vick in a keeper league, but then you shouldn't have him anyway.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/18/2007 7:00 PM  

Once again the sports community is awash in hypocritical hyperbole as they go out of their way to villainize an athlete for something that has nothing to do with his/her sport. Millions will change hands this weekend as we shout for blood and will walk away particularly satisfied if one of the athletes gets "retired" permanently one way or another in this weekends fights be they boxing, UFC, or other but we are appalled at the idea that Vick might be "involved" in animal fighting. I like the comment on the ham sandwhich also being indicted. The ham sandwhich will surely get off since sports is too filled with hams for them to let one of their own go down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Vick should be smarter and do better and blah blah blah but America loves to put the athlete on an underserving pedestal, only to noose the statute later on and cheer as it comes toppling down. This is especially true of the overpaid uber minority who was done a favor by our beloved sports system and apparently ungratefully turned his/her back on the great institution. While Vick is certainly ultimately responsible for his involvment on whatever level, the media wildfire is nothing he or we deserve. That idiot Donald Byrd stood on the floor of Congress, where talk went from America's ongoing daily billion dollar draining foray into Mid-Eastern warfare to sports, to say the hottest place in hell was reserved for Vick and his fellow accused IF they were gulity as charged. Surely the hottest air on earth emanated from his mouth at that time and as the media keeps the heat on Vick it will be another sad day in American sports history if another very talented athlete gets burned for something as moribund as being involved in an activity that is clearly part of American and world culture. This from a country that kills dogs and other pets by the millions daily, grinds them up with other junk, and feeds them to livestock that people will ultimately eat. The Jungle is alive and well on many fronts as another unwarranted feeding frenzy gets out of hand.

Anonymous Prof. Darryl C. Wilson -- 7/20/2007 5:15 PM  

Surprising that no-one pointed out that Sen. Byrd was a Klansman . . . so where is the NAACP, "Rev." Jackson and Sharpton, et al, calling for the Senator's expulsion from the Senate for "racist" remarks??

By the way, Prof. Wilson, it's not Donald Byrd . . . the West Virginia Democratic Senator's name is Robert C. Byrd.

Who the @%^$^@! is "Donald Byrd", Professor Wilson?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 12:56 AM  

Donald Byrd was a phenomenal post-bop trumpet player that found commercial fame when he embraced funk rhythms with this band, the Blackbyrds. Far as I know, he wasn't a senator or involved in animal rights causes. He sure did groove though.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 2:27 AM  

Wow. "Prof." Darryl C. Wilson calling a senator an idiot when Wilson doesn't even know that senator's name. Idiot.

Also, a very nice attempt to divert attention away from what Vick is actually accused of. But, of course, there really is no defense of killing dogs by way of "hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

You can divert and obfuscate the issue as much as you would like. That doesn't change the facts of what Vick is accused of.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 10:34 AM  

Yes, professor Wilson, what a fine upstanding member of the community Ron mean Michael Vick has become. Why should fans really care about what these athletes do in their spare time? As long as they win, right?

I guess it's true: you can take a kid out of the ghetto...

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 12:08 PM  

An eye for an eye ... isn't that the old law? I say hang, drown or electrocute him. Better yet ... remember the movie, Powder? Perfect!

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/27/2007 5:10 PM  

iam a big mikevick fan in for all these peopke to judge him is sad in to that robert byrd f**k you mr EX KLANSMAN we will see you will brun in hell keep your head up #7

Anonymous ashley -- 7/28/2007 2:11 PM  

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