Former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty Tuesday to a state dogfighting charge, which ironically will help him become eligible for an early release from federal prison and hasten his return to pro football.
Vick pleaded guilty to one charge and not guilty to a second that was then dropped. The former Atlanta Falcons QB was handed a three-year suspended sentence.
"I want to apologize to the court, my family, and to all the kids who looked up to me as a role model," said Vick, who arrived via police escort and in shackles.
Vick's mother Brenda Boddie, brother Marcus Vick and fiancee Kijafa Frink were all on hand. Michael is serving a 23-month sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Michael Vick is scheduled for release from federal prison on July 20, 2009.
Federal law prohibits prisoners from being released to a halfway house if there are unresolved charges against them - the primary reason for his Virginia plea.
Since the conviction, Mike Vick has filed for bankruptcy after losing nearly all of the earnings from his record-breaking $130 million contract he signed in 2004.
Vick was convicted of the federal charges in August 2007 when he admitted bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in Virginia's Surry County.
He also admitted to participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs, and it was also learned that he forced domestic animals to participate in fights.