Michael Vick's lawyer said Monday the NFL star will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, putting the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's career in jeopardy and leaving him subject to a possible prison term.
The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines most likely would call for less. Vick's plea hearing is Aug. 27.
Lead defense attorney Billy Martin said Vick reached an agreement with federal prosecutors after consulting with his family over the weekend.
"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made," Martin said in a statement. "Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter."
Martin later told The Associated Press he could not divulge any specifics of the plea agreement or how much time Vick can expect to serve in prison.
Martin said salvaging Vick's NFL career was never part of the discussions.
"Football is not the most important thing in Michael Vick's life," he said. "He wants to get his life back on track."
What is Vick's best public relations strategy?
Vick would need to fall on the mercy of the courts and seek forgiveness from fans. He must be apologetic and remorseful. He must do public service announcements to stop people from fighting dogs. If he embraced dogfighting in the past, he must be the leader against dogfighting in the future. Time does create opportunities for forgiveness. To set a different tone for his reputation, Vick must demonstrate that he is remorseful in interviews and commercials. Along with a good attorney, he needs a good public relations expert.