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Court: Vick to answer to dogfighting charges July 26

  • Story Highlights
  • Indictment: Dogs not performing well were shot, hanged, electrocuted
  • Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick set for bond hearing, arraignment next week
  • Falcons sorry that Vick was "presented to the public in a negative way"
  • Vick, aka "Ookie," took part in killing numerous dogs, according to indictment
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(CNN) -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will go before a federal court in Richmond, Virginia, next week on charges that he participated in a dogfighting ring spanning at least nine states, the court said Wednesday.

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick could face six years in prison if convicted.

Vick will attend a bond hearing before U.S. District Judge Dennis W. Dohnal on July 26 before heading to an arraignment in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Falcons are slated to kick off training camp on the same day.

Vick, 27, and three others were indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiracy in a dogfighting operation that included transporting pit bulls across state lines for illegal prize fights.

If convicted on the federal charges, Vick could find himself behind bars for up to six years, in addition to being fined $350,000, according to the federal court.

According to the 19-page indictment, Vick and his co-defendants are accused of training pit bulls and organizing prize fights in which dogs that weren't up to snuff were executed, sometimes by hanging or electrocution. Video Watch how the charges could affect Vick's career »

The Falcons star went by the code name "Ookie" and participated in or OK'd the killing of numerous dogs, the indictment states. Vick and his co-defendants killed eight dogs as recently as April, the indictment states.

Some dogs were killed after being "rolled," a process by which dogs are tested to determine if they are ferocious fighters. However, in one case, a female pit bull was injured in a fight that cost Vick and his co-defendants $13,000, according to the indictment.

After Vick was consulted about the canine's condition, one of his co-defendants "executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal," the indictment states.

Various other methods were used to kill dogs that fought or tested poorly, including hanging, drowning, shooting, and in at least one case, slamming the dog to the ground, the indictment says.

The indictment alleges that the Falcons phenom and his cohorts engaged in other disturbing practices and that a raid on a home in Virginia uncovered items like "breaking sticks" -- used for prying fighting dogs' jaws apart -- and a "rape stand" used to tie down aggressive female dogs for breeding.

Fifty-four American pit bull terriers also were found on the property during the April 25 raid on the Smithfield, Virginia, home formerly owned by Vick, according to the indictment. Smithfield is about 30 miles west of the Norfolk area where Vick grew up.

Vick allegedly paid $34,000 for the home in June 2001, several weeks after the Falcons drafted him. Soon after, he and his cohorts began buying and training pit bulls for a fighting and breeding outfit called "Bad Newz Kennels," according to the indictment.

Details of several fights are included in the indictment, which states that pit bulls with names like "Maniac," "Trouble" and "Junior Mafia" were pitted against each other for pots ranging from $1,000 to $26,000, the indictment states.

The indictment further states that about $112,000 was exchanged over the outcomes of 16 fights featuring dogs owned or handled by "Bad Newz Kennels."

Twice, the indictment states, Vick personally delivered the kitty to the winning dogs' owners. On one occasion around March 2003, Vick handed over a book bag filled with $23,000 to a dog owner who had won two fights that day.

The indictment says the unnamed dog owner is now one of at least three cooperating witnesses in the case against Vick and his co-defendants.

Vick did not immediately comment on the indictment, but he has previously said that he had a kennel operation on the property, but had no involvement in or knowledge of a dogfighting ring.

No arrest warrants have been issued, and Vick and the other defendants -- Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Virginia -- have not been taken into custody, said Jim Rybicki, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

Vick, a dazzling prospect from Virginia Tech, was taken at the No. 1 spot in the National Football League's 2001 draft. In December 2004, he signed a 10-year contract extension with the Falcons worth a potential $130 million. The deal included a $37 million signing bonus.

Falcons officials said Tuesday they were troubled by the charges against Vick.

"Our club and team will continue to be tested as Michael works through the legal process toward a conclusion," the Falcons said in a statement. "We are prepared to deal with it, and we will do the right thing for our club as the legal process plays out."

The statement added, "We are disappointed that one of our players -- and therefore the Falcons -- is being presented to the public in a negative way, and we apologize to our fans and the community for that."

This is not the first time the highest-paid player in the NFL has been presented in a negative light.

He has been accused of transmitting genital herpes to a woman and using the alias Ron Mexico so he could get treated secretly for the ailment. He earned the ire of his hometown fans after flipping them the bird after a Falcons loss.

He was criticized for missing a chance to speak on Capitol Hill about after-school programs. And earlier this year, authorities investigated Vick after confiscating a water bottle with a secret compartment containing a substance that Miami airport authorities said looked and smelled like marijuana.

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A National Football League spokesman said the latest allegations against Vick would be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy.

"We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him," said spokesman Brian McCarthy. "We will continue to closely monitor developments in this case and to cooperate with law enforcement authorities." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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