3 Illinois players arrested on home invasion, armed robbery charges

Three Illinois football players were arrested Wednesday on home invasion and armed robbery charges. (AP)

Update: May 24 – 7:15 p.m.

Illinois coach Lovie Smith announced Wednesday that Darta Lee, Zarrian Holcombe and Howard Watkins have all been dismissed from the program. All three remain in jail on $150,000 bond, meaning they must pay $15,000 to make bail.

Original story: May 10 – 3:10 p.m.

Three Illinois football players were arrested on Wednesday on charges of home invasion and armed robbery after an alleged incident at a school dormitory.

Darta Lee, Zarrian Holcombe and Howard Watkins were all booked throughout Wednesday morning at Champaign County Jail, according to online records. All three are set to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. CT on Thursday.

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Champaign police Lt. Dave Shaffer told the (Champaign) News-Gazette that the incident appeared to be a “stupid plan” that went wrong once the victim recognized the voice of one of the players.

From the newspaper:

“Three individuals entered an apartment masked and the victim recognized one of them by voice,” Shaffer said. “He pulled his mask off and tried to make light of the situation. One of them produced what we now know to be fake firearm and demanded cash.”

Shaffer said the trio left with an undisclosed amount of money.

The victim gave police enough information that led them to Lee. Lee spoke with officers and was booked into the county jail about 6:30 a.m.

About 8:30 a.m., Shaffer said, detectives met with Holcombe and Watkins, who had apparently been summoned to the UI football offices. After discussions with the two of them there and at the police station, they were each taken to the county jail and booked in between 10 and 11 a.m.

Shaffer said police have recovered the firearm believed used in the holdup.

Lee is an offensive lineman who started two games last year as a true freshman. Holcombe is a receiver who saw action in seven games last season as a true freshman, primarily on special teams. Watkins is an early enrollee offensive lineman.

For more Illinois news, visit OrangeandBlueNews.com.

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Matt Fortuna is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!