|HOME | NEWS | HEADLINES|
|March 8, 2000|
Computer scientist walks into jail
A former computer science professor at the Texas A&M University in Bryan-College Station, Texas voluntarily checked into the Brazos County's minimum security prison yesterday evening. His crime: he used state funds (Texas A&M is a state school) to make 2,000 copies of an award-winning article.
In a plea bargain agreement with the district attorney's office, Dr Dhiraj Pradhan's prison term will last two months. At the end of the term, he will be released on probation, one of his lawyers Wendell Oham told rediff.com
On March 6, Dr Pradhan seemed in good humor about the impending jail term.
"Well I think it will go well," he said from his home in College Station. "It is not like execution, you know. I don't know how people on death penalty spend their last night.
"Three days of jail was not easy," Dr Pradhan said, referring to his surprise arrest in December 1999 on the photocopying charges. "That was tough to spend. This time it will be easier, because I know that I have to spend that time. I have to be there."
He said he would spend the two months reading, mostly magazines. According to prison rules, his family can send him soft cover magazines. Family visits are allowed on Saturdays, he added. The Brazos County jail is approximately 10 miles from his home.
Dr Pradhan said his biggest concern was that the county jail has community rooms. The prison cells holds 30 inmates he said.
"The television is on all the time," he said. "People are shouting. It will be like being on an Indian railway station."
Dr Pradhan, 51, said he had no immediate plans after his release from the jail. He will always have the prison term on his record.
This is in sharp contrast to his tenure at Texas A&M, where he held one of the wealthiest endowed chairs in the computer sciences department. At the time of his termination last year, he drew a salary of approximately $ 185,000.
"Dr Pradhan's crime was that he made the photocopies while on probation on a previous unrelated matter," Oham, his lawyer said. Oham works for a Houston-based law firm called Parnham and Associates. Dr Pradhan is also represented by Catlin, Bryan, Stacy and Dillard, a law firm in Bryan, Texas Youngkin.
In 1996 the university brought charges against Dr Pradhan for misusing approximately $ 100,000 of official funds. The university said the money was earmarked for a course that he had conducted in California. After a couple of years of legal wrangling he entered a guilty plea and was put on probation by the court.
In March 1999 the university terminated Dr Pradhan from his teaching position. Before he left the university he made 2,000 photocopies. The university said he had once again misused public funds and charged him under a fairly recent Texas state law 'Abuse of Official Capacity'.
"Since Dr Pradhan was already on probation, he had no right to a jury trial," Oham said. "And there were great risk factors in having him be tried by a judge. If convicted, the judge could have given him 10 years in penitentiary."
Judges tend to have a different set of rules for people who are accused of committing crimes while on probation, Oham said. For this reason Dr Pradhan's lawyers advised him to take what Oham described as a "safer course of action".
"Had he not been on probation, this would have been a very straightforward case to try in the court," Oham said.
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK