Lehigh Ph.D. candidate in prison for alleged credit card theft

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UPDATE: Jinze Li was released from Northampton County Prison on Oct. 24, after the $10,000 bail was posted in cash by Arup SenGupta, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Lehigh. Li worked with SenGupta to invent the world’s first filter capable of removing both fluoride and arsenic from groundwater, according to the P.C. Rossin College of Applied Science and Engineering website.

Lehigh University Ph.D. candidate, Jinze Li, was sent to Northampton County Prison under $10,000 bail Thursday after allegedly making three unauthorized purchases totaling $1,732.97 on another student’s credit card, according to court documents.

Fellow Ph.D. candidate Zhengyu Xia told Lehigh University police that he noticed purchases made at B&H Photo Video of New York City and called the company who told him the purchases were made under Li’s name, police said.

Xia told police the two men share an office in STEPS room 370, and when Xia confronted Li asking to view his browser history Li initially denied access, police said. Eventually, however, Li allowed Xia to view his browser history where Xia was able to find the purchases placed on Li’s account with B&H Photo Video. Xia took photos and shared the evidence with university police, police said.

When interviewed by police, Li denied making the purchases but admitted to receiving and opening the packages, and to also still be in possession of one of the items purchased, police said.

According to court records, Li was arraigned Oct. 20 before District Judge Robert Hawke under charges of three counts of access device fraud, one count of theft by unlawful taking or disposition and one count of receiving stolen property.

Li’s bail, which he was unable to post, was set at $10,000, and he was sent to Northampton County Prison. Court documents referenced Monday did not indicate if he had been released yet.

Li is originally from China and has been a graduate student at Lehigh since 2012.

The Brown and White reached out to the university for comment on Li’s status at the university. University Communications was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2 at 9 a.m. in District Judge Nancy Matos-Gonzalez’s South Bethlehem court.

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