The NFL took quick action Friday following Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick's admission that he played a role in operating a dogfighting ring. The league suspended Vick indefinitely without pay.
Vick acknowledged killing poorly performing pit bulls and supplying money for gambling and the oversight of an interstate dogfighting operation based out of his Virginia property, according to court documents filed this afternoon in federal court in Richmond, Va.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, 27, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to travel across state lines for the purpose of dogfighting. The charge carries a punishment of up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised release, according to the plea agreement.
In a letter responding to Vick's court statements, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote:
"Your admitted conduct was not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible. Your team, the NFL, and NFL fans have all been hurt by your actions. … Your plea agreement and the plea agreements of your co-defendants also demonstrate your significant involvement in illegal gambling. Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL Player Contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."
In the letter Goodell also states that he will review the status of Vick's suspension once the legal proceedings against him have concluded. The commissioner goes on to advise Vick that the Atlanta Falcons "are now free to assert any claims or remedies available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or your NFL Player Contract."
According to Vick's plea agreement, "the government agrees to recommend sentencing at the low end of the applicable guideline range, provided the defendant fulfils his obligations under this plea agreement." That range, according to sources, could be from one to three years behind bars, a decision that will be made by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson.
Vick agreed that a property he'd purchased on Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Va., for $34,000 in 2001 became the headquarters for Bad News Kennels, according to a summary of facts in court documents obtained by ABC News.
Purses for dogfighting matches, which took place on the property as well as in other locations, ranged from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars, most of which was gambling money provided by Vick, according to the documents. Vick did not, however, place side bets on any of the fights or receive any of the proceeds from purses won by Bad News Kennels.
Vick admits in the documents that in April of this year, he was involved in the killing of six to eight dogs that did not perform well during "testing" sessions at the Moonlight Road property. The dogs were "killed by various methods, including hanging and drowning."
In April, evidence of dogfighting, including more than 50 dogs, was discovered by federal agents during a raid on the Moonlight Road property. No decision has been made on the fate of the dogs.
Under his plea, Vick agrees to testify as a witness for the federal government in future trials.
Vick was originally indicted in July. Each of the three Vick co-conspirators -- Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips -- have already entered guilty pleas.