RICHMOND, Va. – Two of fallen NFL star Michael Vick's co-defendants were sentenced Friday to 18 months and 21 months in prison on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges.
Quanis Phillips of Atlanta and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach could have received up to five years in prison — the same maximum Vick faces when he is sentenced Dec. 10.
Peace, Phillips and Tony Taylor of Hampton pleaded guilty last summer and agreed to testify against Vick, prompting the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback to enter his own plea agreement a few days later. Taylor will be sentenced Dec. 14.
Peace was sentenced to 18 months and Phillips to 21 months.
"You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel," U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson told Phillips.
Sentencing guidelines called for punishments of 12 to 18 months for Peace and 18 to 24 months for Phillips, who has a more extensive criminal record.
Prosecutors recommended sentences at the low end of the range because of the co-defendants' cooperation. But Hudson said he felt sentences on the high end of the range were appropriate because of the nature of the crime.
Hudson told Peace that he was concerned because a pre-sentencing report quoted Peace as saying he saw he nothing wrong with dogfighting.
All four men also face state charges.
According to court papers, Vick financed virtually the entire "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting enterprise at his 15-acre property in Surry County in rural southeastern Virginia and participated in executing several underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other means.
Vick publicly apologized for his role in the dogfighting operation and turned himself in Nov. 19 to begin serving his prison term early. He is being held in a state jail in Warsaw, Va.
The case began in April when a drug investigation of a Vick relative led authorities to the Surry County property, where they found dozens of pit bulls and an assortment of dogfighting paraphernalia.