Vick Pleads Not Guilty

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Michael Vick pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal dogfighting allegations and was released without bond until a Nov. 26 trial.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others entered their pleas in U.S. District Court to 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.

U.S. Magistrate Dennis W. Dohnal, in releasing the defendants without bond, said the judicial system is grounded on the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty "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.

Vick arrived at the courthouse at 3 p.m. in a black sport utility vehicle and was booed by a crowd of hundreds as he emerged.

Vick, in a dark suit and blue shirt, looked straight ahead as he walked up the ramp to the courthouse and did not respond to reporters.

The allegations detailed in a graphic, 18-page indictment sparked protests by animal rights groups at the headquarters of the NFL and the Falcons, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from training camp while the league investigates.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the team wanted to suspend Vick for four games, the maximum penalty a team can assess a player, but the NFL asked him to wait. Instead, Blank has told his embattled player to focus on his legal problems, not football.

Thursday, the Falcons opened their first camp under coach Bobby Petrino.


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