Monday, August 06, 2007

Family Megafeud: A Matter of Trusts?

From an August 1 Associated Press dispatch:
It sounded like a scene from a bad spy novel: a former MIT professor and wealthy businessman is ambushed in a dark parking lot and shot by two masked men with Russian accents.

At first, John J. Donovan Sr. seemed to be the victim of a harrowing attempt on his life. Five months later, he was indicted for allegedly making it all up.
The professor said his son arranged the hit. The son and his siblings say dad faked it.

The financial stakes? Control of various trusts holding a fortune in New England real estate.

This wasn't the first time Professor Donovan claimed his kids were attempting to kill him. You can read the back story in the Boston Globe archive (subscription).

Donovan's bench trial began today in Cambridge Superior Court:
He is accused of falsely claiming that two men attacked him on the night of Dec. 16, 2005, as he left his Cambridge company and then telling investigators that he believed his son James orchestrated the shooting. Prosecutors allege that the Hamilton resident carefully composed the crime scene in which a car window was shattered by a bullet and spent .22-caliber cartridges were scattered in the parking lot to make it appear that he had been targeted for murder by his family.


Jim Gust said...

Donovan was a well known wunderkind when I was an MIT student, but I thought he was more than 10 years my senior. According to legend, he aced many courses without ever attending a class, earning his degrees in record time. (The score on the final exam was everything in those days, so that was all he needed to show up for.)

It seems that he was the grantor of the real estate trusts, doesn't it, from these news articles? Is he having second thoughts about having given up control to achieve transfer tax savings?

JLM said...

According to one of the articles, Donovan contended his kids' lawyer had coerced him into setting up the trusts by threatening to go public with his daughter's charge that he had once molested her.

All in all, sounds like a fun family.