Co-defendant of Mike Vick, Tony Taylor, pleaded guilty today to charges of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. These are the same charges that Mike Vick pleaded not guilty to a week ago. As part of a plea agreement, Tony Taylor pledged to fully cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Vick and two others accused of running an interstate dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" on Vick's property in Virginia. He would also be required to testify against Vick if called upon to do so and cannot get a stiffer sentence or face any new charges based on any new information he provides. As it stands, Taylor faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines likely will call for less. The range will be determined by the court's probation office, but the judge can depart from that range if he finds aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
Important notes about the agreement...
-- Taylor claims that The 'Bad Newz Kennels' operation and gambling monies were almost exclusively funded by Vick.
-- The agreement supports the indictment's claims that the dogfighting ring executed underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other brutal means.
-- Taylor admitted shooting one dog and electrocuting another when they did not perform well in test fights in the summer of 2002.
-- Vick attended several dogfights in Virginia and other states with his partners where the fights offered purses as high as $26,000.
-- Taylor acknowledged that he found the property that Vick purchased in 2001 for $30,000 for development into a dogfighting compound.
-- Taylor says he maintained and trained the dogs for about three years, using his share of winnings for living expenses.
-- Taylor left the operation after a falling out with co-defendant Quanis L. Phillips, and others, in September 2004.
Mike Vick spoke publicly for the first time on Atlanta radio station V103 with DJ Porsche Foxx. Foxx was not allowed to ask Vick questions about the case, per an agreement with his lawyers. Instead, she asked him how he was doing and whether or not he expected to play for the Falcons again. "Hopefully so, you know, under the right circumstances I think it can work ... you know there would have to be a lot of things that would need to be worked out you know for them to put their trust and faith back in me but if I had the opportunity, without a doubt." He also acknowledged his supporters and thanked fans for sticking it out with him saying, "without the fans there really wouldn't be no Mike Vick." He also said "I know I've put the city through a lot. My owner, Arthur Blank, who I love sincerely, I've put him through a lot. And you know it's hurt me to put him through these situations to have to deal with that because he shouldn't have to."
I honestly don't know how Taylor's admission of guilt will affect Vick's case. I think that Vick's lawyers are smart enough to have planned ahead for such an event. I'm sure that they figured someone would fold under the pressure and have already started preparing their arguments against Taylor's allegations. I'm not sure why Taylor changed his plea after just four days but I think his true character is showing in his ability to run everyone else under the bus with him. Is it an attention thing? He figures that if he's going to go down, he might as well go down big and with lots of media coverage? I don't know but it's unfortunate in the sense that his admission of guilt is only going to increase the number of people who find Vick guilty before the actual trial begins in November. Let the judicial system take its course and let the jury make their own decisions. The jury is already going to be swayed enough before they even take their seats...