|Tony Taylor, leaving a Richmond court yesterday, has agreed to testify in the dogfighting conspiracy trial of Michael Vick. (LISA BILLINGS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Codefendant says Vick funded ring
One of Michael Vick's codefendants pleaded guilty yesterday to his role in a dogfighting conspiracy he says was financed almost entirely by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
As part of a plea agreement, Tony Taylor pledged to fully cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Vick and two other men accused of running an interstate dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" on Vick's property in rural Surry County, Va.
"The 'Bad Newz Kennels' operation and gambling monies were almost exclusively funded by Vick," a summary of facts supporting the plea agreement and signed by Taylor states.
The plea deal requires Taylor to testify against Vick and his two remaining codefendants if called upon to do so. Taylor cannot get a stiffer sentence or face any new charges based on any new information he provides, according to terms of the agreement.
Additional charges are possible, however, against Vick and the other two. Federal prosecutors have said a superseding indictment will be issued in August.
Vick's lead attorney, Billy Martin, did not immediately return a phone message.
Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
Vick pleaded not guilty to the same charges last week and said in a written statement that he looked forward to "clearing my good name." He also pleaded with the public to resist a rush to judgment.
The summary of facts signed by Taylor 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, 27, attended several dogfights in Virginia and other states with his partners, according to the statement. Prosecutors claim the fights offered purses as high as $26,000.
Taylor, who will be sentenced Dec. 14, said he was not promised any specific sentence in return for his cooperation with the government.
Vick and Purnell A. Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, are scheduled for trial Nov. 26. They remain free without bond.
The safety from Louisiana State is expected to practice today after signing a five-year deal worth about $41.5 million.
"They're doing the paperwork now," vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said following practice.
Landry missed six practices over four days, making him the team's first holdout since Patrick Ramsey in 2002.
"He's going to have to catch up," assistant coach Gregg Williams said. "He's going to be sore when everybody else is flying."
Landry is projected as a starter at strong safety, joining a secondary that would consist of four players taken in the top 10 of the NFL draft. Cornerback Shawn Springs was the No. 3 overall selection in 1997, free safety Sean Taylor was a No. 5 in 2004, and cornerback Carlos Rogers a No. 9 in 2005.