By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine
Embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges of sponsoring an interstate dogfighting ring.
The charges stem from an operation allegedly conducted at a house owned by Vick in Smithfield, Virginia. Vick and three others were indicted with travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
"I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name," Vick said in a statement read outside the courtroom by his lawyer, Billy Martin. "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."
Hundreds of protesters booed Vick, who showed no reaction, as he walked into the courthouse building as police, homeland security and federal marshals secured the area.
Neither Vick or Martin would answer questions from reporters after the plea, entered before US Federal Court Judge Henry Hudson.
Vick and his three co-defendants were released without bond pending a trial set to begin November 26.