Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Co-defendant's plea could cause trouble for Vick

AFP , ATLANTA, GEORGIA

A plea agreement reached on Monday with one of Michael Vick's federal dogfighting conspiracy co-defendants could give the US football star a major hurdle to clear in his upcoming legal fight.

Tony Taylor, among four men charged with organizing and staging dogfights across US state borders, changed his plea to guilty and signed a document claiming Vick bankrolled the wagering scheme.

Taylor, 34, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14.

Taylor said he would not receive any specific sentencing break based upon his deal to testify to authorities regarding those who played roles in the conspiracy.

Vick, 27, Purnell Peace, 35, and Quanis Phillips, 28, pleaded innocent last week. A trial date was set for November 26. All three, as well as Taylor, face a maximum five-year prison sentence if convicted on a felony conspiracy charge.

Taylor's promise to provide testimony did not include fingering Vick as one who killed dogs considered poor fighters.

Atlanta Falcons playmaker Vick signed a US$130 million contract three years ago.

Taylor said Vick was the major financier of Bad Newz Kennels as well as wagers on fighting dogs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Daily Press of Virginia said that Taylor outlined eight fights Vick either sponsored or attended or both, three of them across state lines in violation of federal laws.

The plea agreement says the dogfighting plan began in 2001, with property for housing and training dogs bought weeks after Vick was the first player selected in the NFL draft.

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