UNC prof. awarded back pay after drug smuggling conviction

Paul Frampton, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Chapel Hill, has been awarded back pay after being convicted of drug smuggling three years ago.

Frampton was convicted of drug smuggling in January 2012 by an Argentine court after allegedly being led on by a bikini model online. He was sentenced to a four year and eight month sentence, which he finished out under house arrest in Buenos Aires.

The University of Chapel Hill placed Frampton on unpaid leave for the duration of his trial, claiming that the professor could not complete his tenured duties. The professor claimed that he was still advising students during the duration of his imprisonment.

In 2013, Frampton attempted to sue the university under the premise that it had withheld his pay even though he was still performing his duties, such as advising graduate students by phone. The judge dismissed the case stating that it was “premature.”

In response to the battle between Frampton and the university, 75 physicists and UNC faculty penned an open letter, arguing that even though the professor may be at fault, it was setting a dismal precedent for tenured faculty.

The University of Chapel Hill eventually fired Professor Frampton in May of 2014, citing misconduct and neglect of duty. This lead to Frampton’s case being pushed all the way to the North Carolina court of appeals.

The appellate court determined that the university incorrectly put Frampton on unpaid leave, without first seeking disciplinary action. The court decided that the professor is to be awarded his lost pay from the time his case began up until the date of his firing.

“We conclude that UNC violated its own policies when it placed Frampton on unpaid personal leave instead of initiating formal disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the tenure policies,” the North Carolina appeals court ruled.

According to The Daily Mail, Frampton has since written about his ordeal in a book, Tricked! The Story of an Internet Scam.

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