Two co-defendants of Michael Vick say the NFL star helped execute dogs that didn't fight well, according to federal court documents.
NFL star Michael Vick after a court appearance last month.
The court papers, filed as Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges Friday, said all three men "executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions" in April of this year.
Vick's co-defendants also stipulated that the money behind the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation came "almost exclusively" from the Atlanta Falcons star.
Federal prosecutors had given Vick until 9 a.m. ET Friday to accept a plea deal that would require him to spend at least one year in prison on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, reports say, but there was no immediate word on what he decided.
Vick's acceptance of the recommendation, described by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, must receive court approval.
If the 27-year-old Vick rejects the deal, he will face an additional charge under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, a source with knowledge of the investigation told the newspaper.
According to the source, who requested anonymity, conviction under that charge would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The new charge would be considered by a grand jury that convenes Monday.
Federal judges rely largely on congressional guidelines for sentencing.
WSB: Court known for tough sentences
Phillips summary of facts (pdf)
Peace summary of facts (pdf)
Taylor pleads guilty
Separately, the National Football League was trying to determine Vick's professional fate. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from playing with the Falcons until the investigation is finished. The league could suspend him for up to a year.
Vick, of Newport News, Virginia, signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with the team in 2004. He was a standout at Virginia Tech and was the first player chosen in the 2001 NFL draft.
A federal grand jury in Richmond, Virginia, charged Vick and three co-defendants in mid-July with organizing fights between pit bulls on property Vick bought in 2001, and transporting and delivering dogs across state lines. Both are conspiracy counts.
Prosecutors said the maximum punishment for conviction on both counts is six years in prison and fines of up to $350,000.
Another defendant admitted guilt and took a plea earlier.
Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, and Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Virginia on Friday.
Sentencing was set for November 30, CNN affiliate WSB-TV reported.
Phillips was taken directly to jail after appearing in court Friday, according to WSB, because he tested positive for drug use while out on bail.
Vick, once one of pro football's highest-profile and highest-paid players, pleaded not guilty July 26. He was released without bond, but U.S. Magistrate Dennis Dohnal ordered him to surrender his passport and dog-breeding license; not travel outside the district of his primary residence without approval; and not buy or sell any dogs.
The third co-defendant, Tony Taylor, 34, accepted a plea deal July 30, the same day all four men pleaded not guilty to the allegations. He agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors. Taylor will be sentenced December 14 and could receive up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
According to the indictment filed with the court July 17, Taylor said he and the other three men decided to start a dogfighting venture in early 2001, and Vick paid for the property in Smithfield, Virginia, used for the operations. See timeline