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Vick surrenders to begin serving sentence before Dec. 10

RICHMOND, Va. -- Michael Vick got a head start on a possible
long prison stretch Monday, surrendering three weeks before he was
to be sentenced for his involvement in a bloody dogfighting ring.

The disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback surrendered to U.S.
marshals in what his lawyer said was another step in his public
repentance.

"From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for
his actions, and his self-surrender further demonstrates that
acceptance," attorney Billy Martin said in a statement. "Michael
wants to again apologize to everyone who has been hurt in this
matter, and he thanks all of the people who have offered him and
his family prayers and support during this time."

Vick pleaded guilty in August to a federal dogfighting
conspiracy charge after his three co-defendants pleaded guilty and
agreed to cooperate with authorities.

He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10 on a federal dogfighting
conspiracy charge but worked out a deal "to voluntarily enter
custody prior to his sentencing hearing," according to a court
document.

The federal sentencing guideline range is projected at a year to
18 months, but Vick, who has admitted bankrolling the Bad Newz
Kennels, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

In an e-mail sent to the AP, the U.S. attorney's office
confirmed Vick's surrender but declined further comment.

Whether the unexpected move will lighten Vick's sentence is
unclear, said Ronald Bacigal, a University of Richmond law
professor who specializes in criminal law and criminal procedure.

"It's kind of like reading tea leaves knowing what's the exact
impact on the judge," Bacigal said. "I don't think there's any
benefits except getting [the sentence] started. I would think he's
purely thinking about timing as far as when he can get back to his
football."

Vick has a lot to overcome.

His troubles began in April when authorities conducting a drug
investigation of a Vick cousin seized dozens of dogs, most of them
pit bulls, from a Surry County property, along with equipment
linked to dogfighting.

It's there that the dogfighting enterprise known as Bad Newz
Kennels operated since 2001 on 15 acres of land Vick owned.

Suspended indefinitely by the NFL without pay, Vick solemnly
apologized for his actions before cameras in late August -- only to
gain more negative attention when he tested positive in September
for marijuana, a violation of U.S. District Court Judge Henry
Hudson's order that Vick stay clean in exchange for being allowed
to be free.

Financial troubles have further sullied Vick's image: He's being
sued for more than $4 million by banks claiming he defaulted on
loans and might have to repay nearly $20 million in NFL signing
bonus money.

The gruesome details outlined in the federal indictment -- dogs
were hanged, drowned and electrocuted -- fueled a public backlash
against the Falcons star and cost him several lucrative endorsement
deals, even before he agreed to plead guilty.

In his written plea, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight pit
bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he
did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings, but
merely associating with gambling can result in a lifetime ban under
the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Vick and his co-defendants also face state felony charges. Vick
has been charged with two state felony counts -- beating or killing
or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting
dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in
prison.

Vick is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw
until his sentencing, U.S. marshals told The Associated Press. The
mixed-gender facility houses about 450 inmates.