The Denise Milani conspiracy: 'Honey trap' professor gets five years in Argentina jail

I thought I was meeting Miss Bikini World, says physicist caught with 2kg of cocaine

She is the internet phenomenon, a Czech-born swimwear model whose website commands a million clicks a month from male admirers around the globe. He  was one of them – a 68-year-old British academic, originally from Kidderminster, who for 11 love-struck weeks believed he was courting on-line the former Miss Bikini World, Denise Milani, and was about to start a new life with her in South America.

Yesterday however, Professor Paul Frampton was sentenced to nearly five years in a notoriously tough Argentinian jail after being found guilty of drug trafficking by a Buenos Aires court – the victim, he claimed, of an elaborate international honey trap set by gangsters pretending to be Miss Milani.

The Oxford-educated particle phenomenologist insisted he was tricked into trafficking a consignment of cocaine after he was stopped in January at Ezeiza International Airport trying to board a plane to Peru.

Professor Frampton, described by his 71-year-old ex-wife as a “naive fool”, said he had been lured into travelling to South America by criminals posing as the amply-proportioned fitness trainer who claims to be the most searched-for model on the internet.

In a newspaper interview after his arrest, Professor Frampton, holder of a double first from Brasenose College, claimed he had been duped by a sophisticated sting operation. “Perhaps I should have realised earlier but the fraudster was very good and very intelligent.” He added: “For 11 weeks I thought I was chatting with an attractive woman.”

The physicist first encountered gangsters posing as Miss Milani, who had nothing to do with the scam, while teaching at the University of North Carolina.

They allegedly “met” using the dating website mate1.com, and following nearly three months of online messaging, the divorcee agreed to move thousands of miles to be with her.

He initially travelled to La Paz, Bolivia, thinking he was going to meet her for the first time. Instead he was greeted by a middle-aged man who gave him a suitcase it was claimed belonged to Miss Milani. The following day he flew to Buenos Aires where he was instructed to fly on to the Belgium capital Brussels where he was told he would finally meet his new girlfriend.

However, after a 36-hour wait for an e-ticket to be sent to him, he decided to abort the plan and fly back to the USA via Peru. He was arrested at the airport and two kilogrammes of cocaine was found hidden in gift wrapping paper hidden inside the lining of his suitcase.

But despite protesting his innocence over the contents of the case, the Argentinian court was read text messages and emails supposedly sent between Professor Frampton and the person he thought was his “girlfriend”.

According to the Argentinian newspaper Clarin, one read “I’m worried about the sniffer dogs”, while others said: “I’m looking after your special little suitcase”, and: “In Bolivia this is worth nothing, in Europe it’s worth millions.”

The court was also reportedly shown a note written by Frampton that read: “1grm/200U$S. 2000grms/400000 U$S”. A source told the newspaper: “At the trial he said he had written it after being arrested, but the arrest witnesses were asked to come back to court and they denied that.”

Professor Frampton, who had faced a maximum 16 years in jail, must serve his four year and eight month sentence at Villa Devoto Prison in Buenos Aires which has been the scene of violent rioting. In 1978, 62 people died during a disturbance.

His lawyer, Eduardo Oderigo, said his client should have been acquitted. “I am convinced of his innocence,” he said.

In an interview following Professor Frampton’s arrest, Miss Milani said she was fearful of the drugs gang. “I’m terrified that these people, whoever they are, have used my identity to trick somebody,” she said. “Like the professor, I am a victim. Since I found out I have felt very vulnerable and frightened, for myself and for my family.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'