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Researcher sentenced for wire fraud in grant scheme

GULFPORT — A researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles has been sentenced in Gulfport to probation and restitution in a wire-fraud case.

Prosecutors said Michael D. Pottenger of Santa Monica, Calif., accepted a grant of nearly $100,000 that he wasn’t eligible to receive.

The Sun Herald reports Pottenger received three years’ probation and was ordered to make restitution of $133,333. A federal judge also ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service.

The grant was administered by NASA’s Shared Service Center at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The indictment alleged the grant was available only to those who agreed to work on the project full-time and who hadn’t requested other federal money for the research.

Pottenger pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in August. He had remained free on an unsecured bond. He faced up to 20 years in prison.

Court documents show Pottenger, as principal investigator for SmartWear, had received more than $673,000 in federal grants since 2001 for research to include textiles for improved parachute performance and under-armor blast protection. The company develops textiles for consumer, industrial, automotive, aerospace and military markets.

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