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VICK ARCHIVE: My long talk with Michael Vick's prosecutor

spacer My lengthy conversation with the state prosecutor in the dogfight case against Michael Vick
Brenda Shoss, director/founder, Kinship Circle
As the Michael Vick dogfight case unfolds in federal court — with evidence of dog electrocutions, drownings, even pitching family pets into the ring for a laugh — the global public is shocked over deal-making that could land the defendant less than 1 year prison time. Meanwhile, the state’s case against Vick is hampered by withheld evidence and testimony. Federal prosecutors have sequestered evidence, including seized dogs, fight gear, etc. They’ve also placed key witnesses under federal protection.

Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter told Kinship Circle’s Brenda Shoss: "I don't know how to communicate with witnesses essential to my case."

8/20/07 - To confirm contact information for this alert, I phoned the office of Gerald Poindexter, Virginia Commonwealth Attorney — and the prosecutor in the state case against Michael Vick. I expected to speak to an administrative assistant or go to voicemail. Instead, I got Mr. Poindexter himself. And he wanted to talk. A lot.

I was surprised by his candor. During the hour we spoke, I came to represent the Vick-appalled public, in a case that has thrown animal rights activists, civil rights activists, sports fans, dog lovers…into heated debate. Everyone has a an opinion about Michael Vick, much of it shouted with passionate conviction. Mr. Poindexter wants anti-Vick voices to know: His office very much wants to prosecute Michael Vick for dogfighting, animal cruelty, and killing dogs (a felony in Virginia).
spacer Mr. Poindexter has been inundated with hate mail from those who do not want Vick prosecuted and accuse him of "playing the race card." He asked me to let you, the animal advocacy public, know:

  • The fact Vick pled guilty today and struck a deal in in federal court does not effect the state’s case in Surry, Virginia.

  • The Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s office wants to conduct its own comprehensive investigation.

  • While Virginia has probable cause to believe crimes were committed and that Vick, plus 3 codefendants, can be convicted — the state has been unable to complete its investigation. Why?


Federal prosecutors have placed main witnesses in a federal protection program. So the state has no access to eyewitness testimony. Surry County, Virginia evidence — including custody of 54 confiscated dogs, dogfight exercise equipment, etc. — has been relinquished to federal investigators.

"They [federal agents] hold the upper hand in the sense I don’t know how to communicate with witnesses essential to my case," Mr. Poindexter told me. "I am effectively at an impasse for physical evidence to build a case on. But, this won’t last. I believe federal authorities will eventually cooperate and we will be able to proceed."
  • FEDERAL CONVICTION: Conspiracy in interstate commerce/aid of unlawful animal fighting (Title 18, USC, Section 371).
  • STATE CONVICTION: Unlawfully torturing and killing dogs, promoting dogfights.
  • ANIMAL VICTIMS: 53 pitbulls seized, 12 pitbulls killed.
spacer MICHAEL DWAYNE VICK, 27, a.k.a "Ookie" or "Ron Mexico"
  • Crime: Felony Dogfigting
  • Where: Smithfield, VA in Surry County
  • Penalties: In the federal case, pled guilty to dogfighting conspiracy and served 21 months of 23-month sentence at Leavenworth, KS prison + 2 months home confinement. Fined $928,000 for care of seized dogs. In Surry County Circuit Court (state case) pled guilty to 1 dogfighting count and given 3-year suspended sentence.

4/2007: A taskforce enters Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick’s property at 1915 Moonlight Rd. Law enforcers uncover 3 structures with neglected dogs inside. Initially on-site for a drug search after Vick’s cousin, Davon Boddie, submitted the address in an arrest — investigators find 66 live dogs, 55 of whom are pit bulls, and 17 dead dogs. Vick allegedly runs a dogfight operation, Bad Newz Kennels, from his estate. Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce is summoned to investigate illegal animal fighting, a felony in Virginia with up to 5 years prison and $2,500 in fines. Vick shifts blame to relatives, stating that he doesn’t occupy the home he owns. He later confesses to bankrolling Bad Newz Kennels and funding dogfight bets. Court papers show that Vick helped electrocute, hang or drown underperforming dogs.
spacer PURNELL AUGUSTA PEACE, 35, a.k.a. "P-Funk" or "Funk"
  • Crime: Felony Dogfigting
  • Where: Smithfield, VA in Surry County
  • Penalties: 18 months in prison, 3 years probation, $250,000 fine.

Authorities say Vick and Peace bought approximately four pit bull puppies from an unidentified cooperating witness in Virginia in 2002. He and Vick also "rolled" or "tested" some of their dogs in short fights, authorities say. In 2002, the indictment says, Peace allegedly executed a dog who did not perform well. Peace was charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and "to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture." He was released from federal custody on January 6, 2009.
spacer QUANIS LAVELL PHILLIPS, 28, a.k.a "Q"
  • Crime: Felony Dogfigting
  • Where: Smithfield, VA in Surry County
  • Penalties: 21 months in prison, 3 years probation, $250,000 fine.

Quanis Phillips, along with Michael Vick and defendant Tony Taylor, purchased four pit bull puppies for approximately $1,000 in Sept, 2001 from someone in Williamsburg, according to the indictment. In 2002, he allegedly executed at least one dog who did not perform well in a test fight. Phillips was charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and "to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture." Among codefendants, Phillips got more jail time due to failing a drug test as he awaited trial. He was released in Feb, 2009. In 2011, he was sent back to jail for violating federal probation.
spacer TONY TAYLOR, 34, a.k.a "T"
  • Crime: Felony Dogfigting
  • Where: Smithfield, VA in Surry County
  • Penalties: 2 months federal prison in Lewisburg, PA.

Tony Taylor found the 1915 Moonlight Road property to house and train dogs for illegal fights. Court papers claim he aided in purchase of four pit bulls in September 2001. In 2002, he executed at least 2 dogs who underperformed in mock fights. Though similarly charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and for sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture, Taylor’s cooperation with federal officials (which led to Vick’s conviction) earned him the lightest sentence. Taylor was first to plead guilty. He was released in 2008.
spacer OSCAR ALLEN, 67, a.k.a "Virginia O"
  • Crime: Felony Dogfigting
  • Where: Smithfield, VA in Surry County
  • Penalties: 3 years probation, $500 fine.

In 2001, Oscar Allen sold a female pit bull, Jane, to Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels enterprise. Allen, of Williamsburg, VA, pled guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to aid in illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting. In his plea agreement, Allen admitted joining Vick colleagues at dogfights. He provided dog management/care tips and helped coordinate test fights to assess stamina and ultimately cull weak dogs. Prosecutors claimed he had no part in actual killings. Allen evaded maximum prison and fines due to cooperation with investigators. He had no prior criminal record and played a comparatively minor role in Vick’s dogfighting ring.
  • Assistant U.S. attorneys Michael R. Gill and Brian L. Whisler represent U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Gill joined the Richmond office in 2005 after more than five years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas. Whisler joined the office in 2002 after serving as an assistant in the Western District of North Carolina from 1993 to 2002.

  • U.S. Magistrate Dennis W. Dohnal, 61, will conduct the bond hearing. A native of Cleveland, he is a graduate of the George Washington Law Center and came to Richmond as an assistant U.S. attorney in 1971. He entered private practice in 1974 and was appointed to bench in January 2000.

  • U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, 60, conducts arraignment. Hudson, a 1974 graduate of American University Law School, was assistant commonwealth attorney in Arlington from 1974-1979, assistant U.S. attorney 1978 to 1979, in private practice in 1979, 1991-1992, 1994-1998…

  • Vick is represented by Lawrence Hunter Woodward Jr., 50, of Virginia Beach. A Radford native, Woodward is a 1982 graduate of the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and is an experienced criminal trial lawyer. His firm’s website says Woodward has negotiated endorsement and team contracts valued at hundreds of millions of dollars for NFL and NBA players and is certified as an agent with the NFL and NBA.

  • Peace is represented by Claire G. Cardwell, 49, of Richmond. Cardwell is a 1984 graduate of T.C. Williams School of Law at University of Richmond with extensive experience in criminal defense work in state and federal courts. She was in private practice 1984 to 1994 and chief deputy commonwealth attorney in Richmond 1994 to 2002.
  • Phillips is represented by Franklin Alex Swartz, 68, of Norfolk. Swartz is a native of Brooklyn, NY, and practices criminal and personal injury law. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1964. He was a captain in the Army from 1964 to 1966 and an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Norfolk from 1968 to 1970.

  • Phillips also is represented by Jeffrey A. Swartz, 45, a native of Charlottesville and a 1987 graduate of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. He has handled criminal cases in state and federal courts and is a former prosecutor in Norfolk.

  • Taylor is represented by Stephen Ashton Hudgins, 52, a Newport News native and 1981 graduate of T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond. He primarily practices criminal law in state/federal courts and has been in private practice his entire career.

  • The state of Virginia proceeds with separate charges from its own investigation. Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that "yes, indeed, we will prosecute" Vick and others on possible animal cruelty and dogfighting charges, felonies in Virginia with animal cruelty charges holding penalties of up to five years in jail for each animal killed. "The execution of these animals — and the manner in which they were executed — is startlingly offensive and demanding of prosecution," Poindexter told the newspaper.

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TO: The Honorable Michael R. Gill and Brian L. Whisler, Assistant U.S. Attorneys The Honorable Gerald Poindexter, Virginia Commonwealth Attorney, Surry County


As the Michael Vick dogfighting case unfolds, the global public is shocked to read about negotiations at the federal level that could land the defendant less than one year prison time.

I respectfully demand penalties commensurate with alleged crimes. Vick, along with three co-defendants, is charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting enterprise. As you know, these felony offenses carry a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

I urge federal and state prosecutors to take a no-lenience stance on dogfighting, animal mutilation and torture. I ask the U.S. Attorney's Office to forego slap-on-the-wrist penalties. Please levy maximum penalties and ensure Vick undergoes psychological counseling. In addition, he should be barred from possessing or living alongside animals in any context.

I fully support the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney's investigation and prosecution of Vick and his co-defendants on felony charges.

Initially, officials uncovered more than 50 pit bulls at Vick's Virginia home. They also found fight tools such as a "rape stand" for forced breeding, treadmills, drugs to amplify aggression, and a bloody fight pit.

Now that co-defendants Quanis Phillips, Purnell Peace, and Tony Taylor have consented to testify against Vick, more sickening details have surfaced. When dogs lost their "game," the Bad Newz Kennels cohorts drowned, strangled, hung, shot or electrocuted them. Phillips attested to Vick's involvement in the execution of at least eight dogs. One dog was slammed against the ground until dead. Vick was consulted to kill another dog "by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal."

More recently, numerous sources informed ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Vick, Peace and Phillips first noosed dogs in the woods on Vick's property. When three dogs survived a hanging ordeal, Vick, Peace and Phillips immersed the animals' heads in five gallon buckets of water until they drowned.

Phillips and Peace also upheld Taylor's claim that Vick participated in gambling. More illicit activity is certain to emerge. Along with gambling, animal fight rings are associated with auto theft, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, and acts of human violence.

Criminologists view the intensity of violent behavior (regardless of the victim's identity) as a precursor to future violence. Animal cruelty is a key trait in the American Psychiatric Association's profile for conduct disorders and the FBI identifies animal abuse as a stage along the violence continuum.

These dogs were forced into lives of brutal misery. I thank you in advance for protecting society from the men who senselessly abused them.


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United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
ATN: Assistant U.S. attorneys Michael R. Gill and Brian L. Whisler
600 East Main Street, Suite 1800
Richmond, VA 23219-2447
ph: 804-819-5400; fax: 804-771-2316
Questions/information requests:
PLEASE NOTE: The United States Attorney's Office doesn't respond to inquiries made to this website. To make a request for information, you may contact our Richmond office, 757-591-4000. Or you may send a written inquiry to address above.
spacer Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter
Post Office Box 358
Surry, Virginia 23883
ph: 757-294-3118
fax: 757-294-3560

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