Former WVU professor sentenced to 3 months in fraud case

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has ordered a former West Virginia University physics professor who admitted committing federal fraud to serve three months in prison.

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh also fined James Patrick Lewis, 54, of Fairview, $9,363 Thursday for the cost of incarceration and ordered him to pay $20,189 in restitution to the university, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell's office said. The restitution is paid in full.

Lewis entered into a contract in 2017 with the People's Republic of China to work as a professor for at least three years, Powell's office said in a news release. Lewis was promised a living subsidy, a research subsidy and a salary totaling more than $800,000 and was required to work full time in China for three consecutive years and at least nine months per year, the release said.

Lewis submitted a request to WVU to be released from his teaching duties for the fall 2018 semester to be primary caregiver for a child he and his wife were expecting, and the request was granted, the release said. But the prosecutor's office said Lewis spent all but three weeks of the semester in China while his newborn remained in the U.S.. He received his full salary from WVU during the period.