LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A former UCLA School of Medicine researcher has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for reading the confidential medical files of co-workers and celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks.

Huping Zhou also was fined $2,000 at his sentencing Tuesday. He pleaded guilty in January to four misdemeanour counts of privacy violations.

Prosecutors claimed that before and after his 2003 firing, Zhou accessed private records more than 300 times. Court filings said they included the records of Sharon Osbourne, Barbara Walters, Elizabeth Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio and Anne Rice.

Authorities say Zhou didn't try to sell the information. His attorney, Edward Robinson, says the Chinese immigrant didn't know it was a federal crime.