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Vick pleads guilty, apologizes

  • Story Highlights
  • Judge sets a December 10 sentencing hearing for Michael Vick
  • Falcons owner says team won't cut quarterback right away
  • General manager: Team sends out "demand letter" for $22 million bonus
  • After dogfighting conspiracy plea, Vick says he's sorry for his actions
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RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) -- Suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick will find out in December what prison sentence -- if any -- he will face after a judge accepted his plea agreement Monday to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge.

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After his guilty plea, Michael Vick tells reporters Monday he takes responsibility for his actions.

Shortly after he entered his guilty plea, Vick apologized "for all the things that I've done and that I've allowed to happen."

In addition to making apologies to Atlanta Falcons teammates, his coach and the National Football League, Vick also said he was sorry "to all the young kids out there for my immature acts."

He said that he was "disappointed in myself" and that "dogfighting is a terrible thing and I ... reject it."

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Vick said. "Not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I've done.

"Through this situation I've found Jesus," he added. He vowed to redeem himself, saying, "I have to." Video Watch Vick's apology »

"I got a lot of down time ... to think about my actions," he said.

A busload of Vick supporters turned out for Monday's hearing, waving signs outside the courtroom and chanting, "Michael we love you." Protesters were also on hand, including one man standing in line at the courtroom with his Chihuahua, wearing a T-shirt that read, "My dog hates Michael Vick."

About two dozen people opposed to Vick's actions quietly protested outside the Georgia Dome before Monday night's preseason game between the Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals. With the exception of a few Vick supporters who shouted at the demonstrators, people seemed more interested in football than dogfighting. Photo View photos of the scene outside the Georgia Dome »

"We're just waiting for the football game," said Keith Christiansen, 26. He and his friends were part of a small group that gathered across from the demonstrators. "I think it's great that ... they can go and protest and do their thing, and the rest of us that are here just to enjoy the game can do ours."

Earlier Monday, Vick pleaded guilty to one count of "conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture" in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond.

During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson asked Vick if he understood the charge. Vick responded, "Yes sir."

The judge reminded Vick that he does not have to accept the deal's recommended sentence of 12 to 18 months.

"I place a lot of weight on the government's recommendations but I am not bound by that," Hudson said. "The decision is mine."

The judge set a December 10 sentencing hearing. That's the same day the Falcons are scheduled to take on the New Orleans Saints.

On Friday, the NFL suspended Vick, 27, indefinitely without pay.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Vick that he would review the status of the suspension after the legal proceedings are over.

Team owner Arthur Blank on Monday said that Vick "betrayed the trust of many people."

"We cannot tell you today that Michael is cut from the team. Cutting him may feel better emotionally for us and for many of our fans, but it's not in the long-term best interests of our franchise," Blank said.

Blank said there were many legal and contractual issues that must be addressed.

Rich McKay, the Falcons' general manager, said the team sent out a "demand letter" Monday for the suspended quarterback's $22 million bonus.

In legal papers filed last week, Vick admitted financing a dogfighting operation and participating in the killing of dogs that did not fight well.

The former NFL No. 1 draft pick from Virginia Tech could face up to five years in a federal prison, but prosecutors have agreed to seek a lesser punishment.

In an additional summary of facts, signed by Vick and filed with the agreement, Vick admitted buying pit bulls and the property used for training and fighting the dogs, but the statement said he did not bet on the fights or receive any of the money won.

"Most of the 'Bad Newz Kennels' operations and gambling monies were provided by Vick," the official summary of facts said. Gambling wins were generally split among co-conspirators Tony Taylor, Quanis Phillips and sometimes Purnell Peace, it continued.

"Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights. Vick did not receive any of the proceeds from the purses that were won by 'Bad Newz Kennels.' "

Vick also agreed that "collective efforts" by him and two others caused the deaths of at least six dogs.

Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Virginia, have accepted agreements to plead guilty in exchange for reduced sentences. See a timeline of the case against Vick »

In the plea deal, Vick agreed to cooperate with investigators and provide all information he may have on any criminal activity and to testify if necessary. Vick also agreed to turn over any documents he has and to submit to polygraph tests.

Vick agreed to "make restitution for the full amount of the costs associated" with the dogs that are being held by the government.

"Such costs may include, but are not limited to, all costs associated with the care of the dogs involved in that case, including if necessary, the long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of those animals."

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In a statement Monday, the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia said that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, will evaluate the more than 50 pit bulls seized from Vick's property before deciding what to do with the animals.

That evaluation should take about three weeks, the U.S. attorney's office said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Rusty Dornin contributed to this report.

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