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Co-defendant in Vick case pleads guilty

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - One of Michael Vick's co-defendants pleaded guilty Monday to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Tony Taylor, 34, who will be sentenced Dec. 14, said he was not promised any specific sentence in return for his cooperation with the government.

Taylor faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but likely will get less under federal sentencing guidelines. The guideline range will be determined by court officials, and U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson can depart from that range if he finds aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

"You're pleading guilty and taking your chances, right?" Hudson asked Taylor.

He responded, "Yes."

Taylor had the same answer when Hudson asked: "You have agreed to cooperate fully with the United States, is that right?"

Taylor, of Hampton, entered his plea to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

Vick, the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, and two other co-defendants pleaded not guilty last week to the same charges.

Taylor and his attorney, Stephen A. Hudgins of Newport News, refused to answer reporters' questions as they left the federal courthouse after the 15-minute hearing.

Prosecutors claimed in a July 17 indictment that Taylor found the Surry County property that Vick purchased and used as the site of "Bad Newz Kennels," a dogfighting enterprise. Taylor also allegedly helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two dogs that fared poorly in test fights.

According to the 18-page indictment, the dogfighting ring executed underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other brutal means. It alleges that the fights offered purses as high as $26,000.

The grisly details outlined in the indictment have fueled protests and public outrage against Vick. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has banned Vick from the Falcons' training camp while the league investigates.

Vick and Purnell A. Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, and Quanis L. Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, are scheduled for trial Nov. 26. They remain free without bond.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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