GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A former state lawmaker convicted of health care fraud wants to have his federal sentence shortened so he can become a monk.

Paul Nathan DeWeese filed a motion in federal court Tuesday, asking for early termination of his probation because he “would like to begin the process of becoming a monk.’’

DeWeese, who ran pain clinics across Michigan, pleaded guilty three years ago to health care fraud for injections given by nurse practitioners in Grand Rapids and Flint.

He was placed on probation for three years. Before he was sentenced, DeWeese surrendered his medical license and paid about $173,000 in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

DeWeese, 64, is hoping to become a monk at the Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. The Abbey was established in 1949 and is a community of Roman Catholic monks who belong to the Order of Cistercians, popularly known as Trappist.

As a monk, he would devote his life to “prayer study, work and hospitality.’’

“They are largely self-sufficient and provide a livelihood for themselves and the poor,’’ defense attorney Larry C. Willey wrote in a motion filed in federal court in Grand Rapids. The motion asks for early termination of probation or, alternatively, modification of terms of probation.

DeWeese attended a weekend retreat at Mepkin Abbey in March and was accepted into a 30-day residency program, followed by a year-long residency program. The shorter program is only offered once a year and begins in late June. DeWeese's probation currently runs until late October.  

“As a practical matter, to do both programs one right after the other, defendant’s probation would need to be terminated,’’ Willey wrote. 

DeWeese paid his $5,000 fine and completed his prescribed 250 hours of community service during his first year of probation, Willey noted.  

The former Republican lawmaker from Holt faced up to five years in prison for making false statements relating to health care matters. 

"I am deeply ashamed of my conduct and accept responsibility for it,'' DeWeese wrote in a letter to the sentencing judge in 2016. "No matter the result I will continue to try my best, limited by my short-comings but seasoned by the crucial lessons of the past year 'to repair the world.'''

DeWeese admitted to bilking Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan out of nearly $173,000 between 2012 and 2014. 

DeWeese owned and operated NBO Medical, which ran pain clinics in several Michigan cities, including Grand Rapids, Brighton, Flint and Lansing. 

Clinics in Flint and Grand Rapids were run by nurse practitioners. Patients were given injections to treat nerve pain, but Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan only provided payment for shots given by doctors.