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Former Auburn safety Mike McNeil pleads guilty to armed robbery

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Former Auburn safety Mike McNeil reached a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced Monday to three years in prison and three years' probation on his first-degree robbery charge, al.com reported.

Last week, McNeil was the subject of a story by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts. On her website Roopstigo.com, McNeil detailed allegations of bribery and grade changing at Auburn under former coach Gene Chizik's watch.

Roberts' story painted Auburn's treatment of McNeil as part of a larger pattern of institutional misconduct, which included several allegations that would constitute NCAA violations. Chizik, an ESPN analyst, denied the allegations in the report.

In the Roberts story, McNeil and others vehemently insisted on his innocence.

By pleading guilty, McNeil received a 15-year "split sentence" from judge Chris Hughes.

“The totality of the circumstances make this the best deal,” McNeil attorney Ben Hand said.

“I was informed what they are trying to say is the truth, but I am not saying it is,” McNeil said.

McNeil was one of four Auburn players arrested and charged with armed robbery in March 2011. Teammate Antonio Goodwin was sentenced to 15 years in June 2012 for his part in the robbery. Brandon Kitchens and Dakota Mosley are still awaiting trial.

According to prosecutors, McNeil was the only one of the four players carrying an actual handgun, a .45-caliber gun borrowed from former Auburn running back Michael Dyer.

In the Roopstigo story, McNeil and his family maintained that he did not know his fellow teammates were planning a robbery, and that he did not need the money as prosecutors contend.

“To show you how innocent he is, Mike is willing to go to trial because he says he didn't do it,” Hand told Roberts. “Mike McNeil didn't rob anyone.”

The Roopstigo story -- in addition to publishing allegations of NCAA violations from McNeil and other former Auburn players -- also detailed what McNeil and his family felt was mistreatment from Auburn coaches and administration in the wake of the robbery, a portrayal that drew an angry rebuke from Chizik.

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