Paul Frampton: Court in Argentina Convicts UNC Professor of Drug Smuggling

PHOTO: University North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Paul Frampton is seen in this undated photo.
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A court in Argentina has convicted an Oxford educated University of North Carolina professor of attempting to smuggle four pounds of cocaine into the United States.

Paul Frampton, a 68-year-old esteemed professor of physics and astronomy, says he thought he was flying to South America to meet with a bikini model but ended up getting caught in what they call a "honey trap."

Frampton flew to Bolivia from North Carolina earlier this year after communicating with someone who claimed to be Denise Milani, winner of Miss Bikini World 2007. She never showed up.

Instead, Frampton says he was met by a man who gave him a suitcase, identifying himself as an intermediary for Milani, and instructing him to take it to her in Argentina.

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Once there, he says he could not find her and decided to board a plane home, with that suitcase in hand. Police opened it up at the airport and found more than four pounds of cocaine inside.

"He has a high IQ, is well-known and very distinguished in the field of physics and other scientific areas, but when it comes to common sense he scored a zero," said former DC homicide investigator Rod Wheeler.

The Argentinean court sentenced Frampton to serve four years and eight months in custody after prosecutors there presented evidence of text messages they say Frampton sent to the person he thought was the model, saying, "I'm worried about the sniffer dogs," and "I'm looking after your special little suitcase."

READ: UNC Professor Held in Argentina on Drug Charges Wants Raise From University

The University of North Carolina has cut off Frampton's salary in a move that prompted dozens of his colleagues at the university to sign a letter of protest to administrators.

"As more information about his case becomes available ... it becomes more and more obvious that Paul was the innocent, although very gullible, victim of a scam," the joint letter said.

Many wrote separate letters of reference on a website they created to support the embattled professor, who is hoping to serve his time under house arrest in Argentina at a friend's apartment.

From prison Frampton has said, "It does seem unfair that an innocent scam victim is treated as a professional drug smuggler."

Frampton's Argentinean lawyer told ABC News she would have no comment until having a chance to review the judge's complete ruling, which she expects to be released early next week.

However, it appears this is not the first time Frampton has been in hot water over a woman.

The Telegraph, a London based paper that serves Great Britain , reported that friends say he once met another woman online and flew to China to marry her. This time, the woman was real, but after seeing Frampton, she reportedly canceled the wedding.

If you have a story you would like told you can email correspondent Mark Greenblatt at mark.p.greenblatt@abc.com.

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