- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Prosecutors recently dropped burglary charges against three former Texas Tech football players in exchange for the players’ agreeing to perform community service and meet other requirements.

Under terms of the agreement, a felony charge of burglary of a habitation against each of the ex-players was dismissed and they will enter a pretrial diversion program that includes a number of provisions, including mandatory drug testing.

Dakota Devon Allen and Robert James Castaneda, both 20, and Trace Keaton Ellison, 18, were kicked off the team in May for “failure to uphold student-athlete expectations.” A grand jury indicted them in June and they’re no longer enrolled at the university.

Allen’s attorney, Guy Womack, said the Lubbock County district attorney’s office signed the agreement Friday and state District Judge Jim Bob Darnell approved it this week.

Allen had never before run afoul of the law and earned Big 12 academic honors in 2015, Womack said, and was an ideal candidate for the court’s diversion program.

“This is reserved for individuals who the district attorney believes warrant a resolution of their case without criminal consequences,” Womack said Tuesday.

Authorities said the three men broke into a Lubbock home at some point between Dec. 20 and Jan. 9 and stole a gun safe containing seven handguns and rifles worth $14,000, two digital cameras and a TV, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Investigators said the owner of the stolen rifles was in a pawnshop in March looking for a new gun and found one of the weapons there, the affidavit said. That led investigators to a man who told police he had paid Castaneda for several weapons. Castaneda was reluctant to name the two other individuals but eventually told investigators their jersey numbers, according to the affidavit.

Allen would have been a sophomore linebacker and one of the team’s top defenders. Castaneda would have been a sophomore offensive lineman, and Ellison, as a redshirt freshman, was expected to be a backup offensive lineman.

Womack said Allen is enrolling at East Mississippi Community College, a junior college national powerhouse.

Womack downplayed Allen’s role in the theft and sale of the weapons and said although the felony charge was dropped, Allen suffered “humiliation” and lost a scholarship at Tech worth $100,000.

Castaneda is enrolling at a community college in Iowa and hopes to restart his football career, his attorney, Chuck Lanehart, said.

An attorney for Ellison did not return a call for comment, and the district attorney’s office didn’t return a message seeking an explanation of the agreement.

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