Hillsborough, N.C. — A court in Argentina has convicted and sentenced a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor who was jailed there in January after authorities found drugs in his suitcase.
Paul Frampton, a physics and astronomy professor, was sentenced to four years and eight months in confinement Monday afternoon. Mark Williams, a fellow UNC professor and ardent supporter of Frampton, said his sentence translates into 2 years and four months of actual time served.
"The over 10 months he has already served count," Williams said in an email to WRAL News. "So we expect he should be out by May 2014.
Frampton was released earlier this month to the custody of a friend in Argentine after he developed a lung ailment from second-hand smoke in the prison. He is expected to serve out his time under house arrest.
Williams said it's also possible that the court will allow Frampton to teach at a university in Buenos Aires during that time.
"We are not sure about that yet," he said.
Frampton was arrested at an airport in Buenos Aires in January and charged with attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country, according to the U.S. State Department.
British news reports say Frampton told investigators he was in Argentina to meet a model he'd met online and someone gave him a bag they claimed belonged to the woman.
His advocates in Chapel Hill say Frampton made a mistake, thinking he was helping a friend. Friends, students, his ex-wife and Congressman David Price have rallied behind him.