Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio backed off an earlier statement Thursday naming Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in a pit bull fighting investigation that originated in 2004 in Gilbert.
Arpaio told KTAR (92.3 FM) that Vick was a “person of interest regarding pit bull fighting” and said Vick’s name has been “very familiar” to his office since “a while back.”
But it turns out he had the wrong NFL player.
His office released a statement 1 p.m. Thursday that explained the mixup.
Sheriff’s Cmdr. Paul Chagolla said animal crimes enforcement deputies received a tip in 2004 about pit bull fighting at a Gilbert residence. When detectives went to the address, the resident at the time spoke with detectives and indicated the person overseeing the dog fights was an NFL player.
Detectives found no evidence of dog fighting at the address and concluded that the football player had removed the animals and taken his dogs to another state two days before.
A report was taken concluding no further action was possible at that time.
Chagolla said that as the story of Vick’s participation in pit bull dog fighting unfolded in the news media, sheriff’s detectives recalled the 2004 tip.
“Because of the similarities between the two cases, investigators believed the tip may have had a connection to Michael Vick,” Chagolla said. “When detectives reviewed the case summary, it was determined that the player in the Gilbert incident was not Michael Vick but in fact a different NFL player.”
Chagolla said the name of that player will not be released and no proof of any criminal violations against him have been substantiated.