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U. athletes accept plea in abeyance

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Two former University of Utah football players on Thursday pleaded guilty to felony check-fraud charges.

But their plea bargain offers them the possibility that their criminal records will remain unblemished if they comply with the terms of the agreement.

Anthony Arceneaux, younger brother of Ute quarterback Darnell Arceneaux, and Onyeki Ossai agreed to plead guilty to third-degree felony forgery in exchange for a "plea in abeyance."

The two men in February stole checks from another university student and attempted to cash them. Charges filed against a third athlete, Justin Walterscheid, were dismissed after Arceneaux and Ossai admitted he was an unwitting party to the crimes, prosecutor Howard Lemcke said.

The plea agreement stipulates Arceneaux and Ossai must complete 120 hours of community service and pay $405 in restitution to the victim. If, after 12 months, the two are found to have complied fully with the agreement, Lemcke said their records will be swept clean.

The players were suspended from the football team for the next year by the university's Student Behavior Committee in a mid-May ruling and may face further sanctions by the athletic department.