Michael Vick's lawyer said 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 US$250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines most likely would call for less. Vick's plea hearing is on Aug. 27.
Vick reached an agreement with federal prosecutors after consulting with his family over the weekend, lead defense attorney Billy Martin said on Monday.
"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 press he could not divulge any specifics of the plea agreement or how much time Vick can expect to serve in prison.
Vick is charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. He had pleaded not guilty last month and vowed to clear his name at a November trial.
Martin's announcement came as a grand jury that could add new charges met in private. Prosecutors had said that a superseding indictment was in the works, but Vick's plea most likely means he will not face additional charges.
Three of Vick's co-defendants have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him if the case went to trial.
Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace signed statements saying the 27-year-old quarterback participated in executing at least eight underperforming dogs by various means, including drowning and hanging.
In a telephone interview with the press, Martin said Vick is paying a high price for allowing old friends to influence his behavior, but he emphasized that his client takes full responsibility.