Vick to Plead Guilty

NFL star's three co-defendants have already entered plea agreements.

Aug. 20, 2007 — -- NFL star quarterback Michael Vick threw a Hail Mary in his illegal dogfighting case Monday, agreeing to plead guilty to avoid any further charges.

"After consulting with his family this weekend Michael Vick asked that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him," lead Vick attorney Billy Martin said in a written statement.

"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to the charges and accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologize everyone who has been hurt by this matter," Martin's statement concluded.

Vick, 27, had been in talks with his attorneys last week and over the weekend. The trial was set to begin Nov. 26, after 11 games of the Atlanta Falcons' 16-game regular season would have already been played.

Vick Likely Headed to Prison

The charges could bring a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each defendant. Sources tell ABC News it might not be possible for Vick to avoid prison time.

The pressure was on for Vick -- one co-defendant entered into a plea agreement last month, and the remaining two men appeared in court Friday to do the same. Prosecutors reportedly offered Vick a plea deal that included at least a one-year prison sentence.

The government was set to possibly add more charges -- such as racketeering -- based on allegations contained in the co-defendants' statements of fact that Vick financed the alleged gambling operation associated with the suspected dogfighting ring.

Co-Defendants Pleas Pressured Quarterback

Vick, the Atlanta Falcons' starting quarterback, and his three co-defendants had all originally entered not guilty pleas July 26.

A week earlier on July 17, the federal government had filed an indictment against the foursome.

You can view the full indictment against Vick by clicking here.

Prosecutors say Vick, Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor used a property Vick owns in Smithfield, Va., "as the main staging area for housing and training the pit bulls involved in the dogfighting venture and [for] hosting dog fights."

The alleged venture is known as "Bad Newz Kennels," and the disturbing indictment details more than just bad news for the dogs involved.

Prosecutors alleged that the losing dogs were sometimes brutally executed -- drowned, hanged, shot, electrocuted or slammed against the ground. The indictment and the statements of fact submitted by Vick's co-defendants charged that the athlete participated in some of those canine killings.

NFL Future Unclear

A standout at Virginia Tech, Vick was the top pick in the 2001 NFL draft. He has a $130 million contract with the Falcons, lucrative contracts including a Nike shoe deal, and he has graced the cover of EA Sports' bestselling Madden NFL video game.

The NFL has stated that it would wait for the legal process to play out and conduct its own investigation before imposing sanctions on the key player, though Vick had already been banned from pre-season training.

Vick's legal troubles come at a sensitive time for the NFL, which has been in perpetual damage control to maintain its all-American image. Since 2006, more than 50 NFL players have been arrested or charged with various crimes.

As for Vick's sponsors, they've chosen to punt instead of waiting for a fourth down conversion from the courtroom –- Nike has suspended the shoe release, Reebok halted sales of his No. 7 jersey, Upper Deck is pulling Vick trading cards from sets to be released this fall, and has already removed autographed Vick memorabilia from its online store. Rawlings sporting goods has also ended its relationship with the beleaguered player.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events