- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

SURRY, Va. — A prosecutor said yesterday informants have come forward to link Michael Vick to dogfighting and that evidence already seized from the home of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was strong enough to hand down indictments.

Surry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter said he has heard from about a half-dozen people claiming to have information about Vick’s involvement in dogfighting, but he does not know whether their claims have proved to be reliable.

In a letter, an inmate in a South Carolina prison said he attended dogfights where Vick also was in attendance and saw Vick bet large amounts of money. Another informant provided street names of dogfighters from elsewhere in Virginia.

A deputy sheriff in the county, W.R. Brinkman, is on the road investigating the claims, Poindexter said, noting that the investigation is the job of the sheriff.

Poindexter said a search warrant issued May 23 for the massive home Vick owns in the county still has not been executed because he wants to make certain any search does not jeopardize the investigation. Several years ago, another dogfighting case in the county was thrown out of court because of an illegal search, he said.

The warrant gives investigators permission to search for pit bull terrier/fighting dog carcasses on the grounds and in buildings behind the black privacy fence in the rear of the home. It also allows authorities to search “all outbuildings which have blood covered wood floors or walls” for anything that could be used in the killing of animals, including ropes, guns, rifles, spent shotgun shells, spent bullet cartridges, shovels and “any and all evidence contributing to dogfighting and animal cruelty.”

The warrant was issued after an informant told Brinkman there were as many as 30 dogs carcasses buried on the property. Poindexter said any attempt to remove the carcasses would be incriminating.

Police raided the home April 25 as part of a drug investigation. They seized 66 dogs — 55 of them pit bulls — and a variety of equipment that could be associated with dogfighting.

While items like treadmills and syringes seized could be typical of a legitimate breeding operation — Vick is a registered breeder — items like a “pry bar” used to pry apart a dog’s jaws and bloodstained carpeting raised dogfighting suspicions.

Dogfighting is a felony in Virginia.

Poindexter said he is confident that evidence already taken from the home would be enough to produce indictments.

When charges will be sought and who will face them remains to be seen, he said, noting that unless a special grand jury is called, the county grand jury is scheduled to meet next on July 24. The county has never had a special grand jury called.

A native of Newport News who starred at Virginia Tech, Vick has blamed family members at the home for taking advantage of his generosity. He also said he is rarely at the house and said he didn’t know a large kennel on the property could be involved in criminal activity.

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