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July 18, 2007

Michael Vick Indicted For Running Nationwide Dogfighting Ring

"Dogfighting." Canine snuff theater.

On July 7, federal authorities conducted a second search of the Surry, Va., property owned by Vick that is the center of the dog fighting investigation.

According to court documents filed by federal authorities earlier this month, dog fights have been sponsored by “Bad Newz Kennels” at the property since at least 2002. For the events, participants and dogs traveled from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas and other states.

Fifty-four pit bulls were recovered from the property during searches in April, along with a “rape stand,” used to hold dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified for dogs; and a bloodied piece of carpeting, the documents said.

During a June search of the property, investigators uncovered the graves of seven pit bulls that were killed by members of “Bad Newz Kennels” following sessions to test whether the dogs would be good fighters, the documents alleged.

Members of “Bad Newz Kennels” also sponsored and exhibited fights in other parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and other states, according to the filings.

On Vick’s Web site, he lists his birthplace as Newport News, “a.k.a. BadNews.”

...

Sometimes, dogs weren’t fed to “make it more hungry for the other dog.”

Fights would end when one dog died or with the surrender of the losing dog, which was sometimes put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method, according to the documents.

Vick initially said he had no idea the property might have been used in a criminal enterprise and blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity.

Sick. Goldstein thinks he's probably looking at jail and possibly the loss of his NFL career. If so, good riddance to bad rubbish.

Sports Illustrated thinks he'll be gone, too, assuming he's guilty, which, let's face it, he almost certainly is.*

[M]ake no mistake about this: [new NFL commissioner] Goodell will act swiftly and severely if Vick is found guilty on any of the charges. Not just because of the cruel and cowardly acts Vick is alleged to have been part and parcel to at the dogfighting compound in Virginia. But also because if the allegations are true, Goodell will feel used by Vick in a big way. In April, at the NFL Draft, with stories swirling that Vick's property had been used for dogfights, Vick told Goodell he had nothing to do with it and was rarely at the home in question.

I believe if Vick is found guilty, there will be tremendous pressure on the Feds and the judge to send him to jail and not just put him on probation. And I also believe that if he goes to jail, when Vick gets out, Goodell will be under similar pressure to suspend him for a year or longer. One of the most disturbing aspects of the indictment is it alleges Vick was involved in the dogfighting ring for six years. This was not just an occasional lark according to investigators. This was Vick's off-field sport. This was his poker, his billiards, his pickup basketball.

...

The league seems ready to take a deep breath, take the picketing and the angry columns and the righteous indignation for now. But the hammer will be heavy if Vick is found guilty of even a portion of the alleged charges.

* Goldstein counsels caution in branding him guilty in the wake of the Duke Lacrosse Case. Seems like good advice, but the fact is at least 95% of people accused of a crime are in fact guilty, and the Duke case did not change this fact.

I don't think the problem is really assuming, provisionally, that most accused of a crime are guilty. I certainly figured the Duke Three were guilty of what they were charged with when the story first broke. I don't feel any shame in that. Who would have thought that a DA would act as Nifong did? Certainly the NC State Bar and Attorney General's office were shocked by his behavior.

The problem comes with not just softly assuming guilt but being downright certain of it in the face of great evidence of innocence.

And the circumstantial evidence against Vick appears strong. We know in this case a great and heinous crime was committed (unlike in the case of the Duke Not-A-Rape); we also know Vick's property was used in this crime. The only question is whether Vick knew about it and participated. We don't know that, but certainly it doesn't look good for him.

Alas... We won't have the bad publicity coup of seeing the Falcons play the Browns, whose mascot is a dog, this year. Not even in preseason. They play Cincinnati but not Cleveland in preseason.

I question the schedule. I guess the NFL just "plans these schedules a year or two in advance," huh? (That's ironic, btw: They do plan the schedules far in advance. )


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posted by Ace at 01:54 PM

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