RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Michael Vick pleaded not guilty to federal dogfighting accusations and was released conditionally without bond until a November 26th trial.
In a statement read outside the federal court in Richmond, Virginia, by his attorney, Billy Martin, Vick said he takes the charges very seriously and looks forward to clearing his "good name."
He said -- quote -- "I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown. Above all, I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family."
Martin said it will be a "hard-fought trial."
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others entered their pleas in U-S District Court in Richmond to conspiracy charges involving competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines.
Federal prosecutors allege the operation -- known as Bad Newz Kennels -- operated on Vick's property in Surry County.
US Magistrate Dennis Dohnal, in releasing the defendants without bond, said the judicial system is grounded on the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilt "no matter how heinous the allegations may be."
Among the conditions set for all the defendants is that they surrender their passports, that they not travel outside their immediate area without court approval, and that they do not sell or possess any canine.
In addition, Vick was ordered to surrender any animal breeder or kennel license.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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