Neel pleads not guilty

SAN ANTONIO -- Former Oakland Athletics first baseman Troy Neel pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he left the country to avoid paying about $725,000 in child support.

Neel, 43, remains in federal custody in San Antonio. If convicted, he faces up to two years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Neel played for Oakland from 1992-94 and also played pro baseball in Japan and Korea before purchasing a 16-acre resort island in the Republic of Vanuatu, where he had lived since 2000. In 1998, he was ordered to pay $5,000 a month for his son and daughter.

A federal grand jury indicted Neel on a charge of foreign travel to evade child support obligations. He was arrested in December at Los Angeles International Airport as he exited a flight from Sydney, Australia.