Former Prof. Shoots Self In Attempt to Frame Son

A former MIT professor who staged his own shooting and framed one of his sons for the crime was found guilty Aug. 17 of filing a false police report.

John J. Donovan Sr., a former Sloan School of Management professor, shot himself in the Vassar Street parking lot of his company Cambridge Executive Enterprises, adjacent to Simmons Hall. According to Associated Press reports, at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2005, Donovan shot himself three times in the abdomen. In a 911 call that followed, Donovan was hesitant to tell police his location, instead urging them to protect his wife and accusing his son James of hiring Russian hit men to kill him and laundering over $160 million, according to the AP.

Donovan’s troubles appear to stem from ongoing family disputes over his personal wealth. According to The Boston Globe, Donovan has amassed a fortune of over $100 million. In addition, the Globe indicates that Donovan has been married three times, has five children, has been accused of molesting one of his daughters, and has accused that daughter of stealing from a family company. Donovan has been involved in a variety of legal disputes with his family members covering family businesses as well as inheritance monies and property.

In staging his shooting, Donovan wrote out a to-do list which was found in his pocket, repositioned a security camera facing the Vassar lot, and shot into the door of his car, according to the Globe. At sentencing, Donovan was ordered to serve two years on probation, pay a $625 fine, and perform 200 hours of community service, according to the AP. Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley told Reuters that Donovan’s actions were “bizarre and premeditated,” and were “expensive and time consuming” for the police.

Despite teaching at MIT for nearly 30 years, Donovan has not been on great terms with the Institute. In 2000, Donovan’s company filed an appeal to delay construction of the adjacent Simmons Hall, claiming that the building would disrupt traffic and parking. The dispute was confidentially settled out of court, with no changes made to the construction plans.