Planet13 - 7:27 pm on Aug 14, 2013 (gmt 0)
I think we might have lost site of the ball here...
google looks for PATTERNS - not just one or two links.
If you have ever filed a spam report against a competitor's site only to see goolge do nothing, then you have probably witnessed google's disinterest in chasing down individual links.
So I would agree with JS_Harris and Robert Charlton that it is the linking profile (among other profiles of the sites), that would cause google to penalize / negatively affect links.
There is a particularly good introduction on a blog by one of the webmasterworld moderators to the types and scope of data that google looks at. I don't know if I am allowed to link to it or even mention the name of the moderator here though, so I guess you are going to have put on your detective hats.