Vick present in Virginia court hearing

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- A lawyer for suspended NFL star Michael Vick told a bankruptcy court Thursday that the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback has lined up a $10-an-hour construction job for when he gets out of prison.

Vick, 28, appeared in court for the first time in his bankruptcy case to explain to a judge how he plans to emerge from his financial problems. Before the hearing began, he turned around to wave and smile at family members sitting in the courtroom. He is expected to testify before the proceeding wraps up Friday.

"You will hear from Mr. Vick his future intentions, how he's going to change the way he lives his life," his lawyer, Michael Blumenthal, told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro.

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence for bankrolling a dogfighting ring, and his bankruptcy plan is based on the goal of returning to a professional football career. He briefly left a federal prison in Kansas to attend the hearing. He's scheduled to be released from custody in July, but could be sent to home confinement in late May.

An agent for Vick said during court testimony that he hoped Vick could be back in the NFL by September.

Joel Segal testified as part of the hearing to assess Vick's bankruptcy plan.

If Vick is allowed to return, Segal said he would try to negotiate a one- or two-year contract that would include incentives for playing time and a starting position.

Vick, once one of the NFL's highest-paid players, plans to work 40 hours a week for $10 an hour at one of W.M. Jordan Co.'s 40 commercial construction jobs, said John Robert Lawson. His father, Robert Lawson, helped start the Newport News company.

Lawson, 57, said that he has known Vick for more than 10 years and that they have been involved in charitable work together. He said Vick's representatives approached him when the former hometown hero was turned away by other employers.

"I believe all of us make mistakes, and once you've fulfilled your commitment and paid the price, you should be given a second chance," Lawson said in a telephone interview.

"He's not a bad person. He made some bad choices," Lawson said.

Details about the brutality of Vick's dogfighting enterprise enraged the public and helped destroy his finances, which court records show were already in serious disarray because of lavish spending and poor investments.

Earlier this week Vick and the Falcons agreed that he would pay back $6.5 million of his Atlanta contract, moving him closer to cutting ties with a team that doesn't want him.

But how and when Vick might begin a professional comeback isn't clear. Vick was suspended indefinitely after his 2007 indictment, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he will review Vick's status after he is released.

A committee representing most of Vick's unsecured creditors has endorsed his Chapter 11 plan because the alternative -- a Chapter 7 liquidation of his assets -- would not provide them any portion of his future earnings. But some other parties, including a former agent who won a $4.6 million judgment against Vick, opposed the plan.

Under his bankruptcy plan, Vick would keep the first $750,000 of his salary, and creditors would get part of any additional earnings.

Most objections to Vick's bankruptcy plan have been resolved, Blumenthal said.

Among them is the U.S. Labor Department's complaint that Vick improperly spent $1.3 million from the pension plan of one of his companies, MV7, a celebrity marketing company. A settlement calls for Vick to waive his participation in the pension plan and restore some of the money.

Vick is eligible for transfer to home confinement with electronic monitoring about May 21. That would allow him to serve the last two months of his sentence at his Hampton home in eastern Virginia, one of two houses he would be allowed to keep under his bankruptcy plan.

As a six-year NFL veteran, Vick would be in line for a veterans' minimum salary of $620,000.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior NFL reporter John Clayton was used in this report.