RICHMOND, Va. The man who provided prosecutors most of the information that led to Michael Vick's downfall was sentenced to two months in prison Friday for his role in the NFL star's dogfighting ring.
Tony Taylor of Hampton helped establish Vick's "Bad Newz Kennels" operation and joined in killing dogs but later became the government's chief informant in the case, prosecutor Michael Gill said at Taylor's 10-minute sentencing hearing.
"He was the most significant source of information in this case," Gill told U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. "He did not hesitate in any way."
Gill said it would have taken the government significantly longer to build a case against Vick and his three co-defendants had it not been for Taylor, who provided details of more than half of the "overt acts" outlined in the indictment.
Vick, who financed the operation, was sentenced Monday to 23 months in prison for a dogfighting conspiracy. Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips of Atlanta previously were sentenced to 18 months and 21 months, respectively.
Gill asked Hudson to sentence Taylor only to probation because of his cooperation. Hudson agreed that Taylor was entitled to some leniency, but he said he did not believe such a "gross disparity" in sentencing between Taylor and the other defendants was appropriate.
"You were as much an abuser of animals as any other defendant in this case," Hudson said.
Taylor apologized for his crime.
"I realize those were inhumane and stupid decisions I did make," Taylor told the judge.
Taylor's attorney, Stephen A. Hudgins, urged Hudson to consider Taylor's good behavior since leaving the dogfighting enterprise in 2004.
"He left behind everybody involved with that and did not get back involved in that activity," Hudgins said.
All four men initially pleaded not guilty. Taylor changed his plea on July 30 and agreed to cooperate with the government in its prosecution of the others. Peace and Phillips soon changed their pleas as well, and Vick followed suit on Aug. 23.
Taylor scouted for a location for the dogfighting operation in 2001 and recommended a 15-acre tract in Surry County, in rural southeastern Virginia. Vick paid about $34,000 for the property the following year.
In a summary of facts that accompanied his plea agreement, Taylor said he maintained and trained the dogs for about three years. He admitted executing two dogs, shooting one and electrocuting the other, when they did not perform well in test fights.
Vick received a harsher sentence than Peace and Phillips after Hudson concluded that the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback lied about his direct involvement in killing dogs and about his marijuana use, which was detected in a drug test.
Taylor said he left the operation after a falling out with Phillips and others.