Probation for former Illini football players charged in robbery prank

Football

The second of three Illini football players charged in an armed robbery prank will be on probation for one year. And the third is expected to get the same sentence next month.

Judge Tom Difanis this week sentenced 19 year-old Howard “HoJo” Watkins to 12 months of conditional discharge after Watkins admitted to a misdemeanor theft charge.

Attorney Tony Bruno, who represents the third defendant Darta Lee, said his client is expected to enter an identical plea on May 4 and also get one year of conditional discharge.

Earlier, another player, Zarrian Holcombe, admitted to a felony theft charge. But he can avoid a felony conviction if he completes the terms of his probation.

Prosecutors said the crime occurred on May 10 at Bromley Hall on campus.  They said Watkins, Lee and Holcombe wore masks, and one was armed with a BB gun. The men entered the room of someone they knew and demanded money.

Coach Lovie Smith kicked the players off the team soon after the allegations came to light.

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