SUSSEX, Va. (AP) - Michael Vick and three co-defendants were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on state charges related to a dogfighting ring operated on Vick's Virginia property.
Vick, who already pleaded guilty in federal court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge and is awaiting sentencing Dec. 10, was indicted on one count of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and one count of engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each count is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
The grand jury declined to indict the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and two co-defendants on eight counts of animal cruelty, which would have exposed them to as many as 40 years in prison if convicted.
Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter asked that the four be arraigned Oct. 3 and requested that each be released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond. None of the defendants nor their lawyers were in court.
The charges are the first leveled against Vick in the county where he built a home on 15 acres that was the base of the dogfighting operation.
The grand jury - made up of two black men, two black women and two white women - met for more than three hours.
“These are serious charges, and we can assure you that this grand jury was not driven by racial prejudice, their affection or lack of affection for professional athletes, or the influence of animal rights activists and the attendant publicity,” Sheriff Harold Brown and Poindexter said in a joint statement.