IT Guru John Donovan Sentenced To Clean Up Horse Trails

The judge's approval of 200 hours of community service drew comments from law enforcement officials frustrated by an MIT professor who faked his own death.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

December 5, 2007

2 Min Read

Convicted last summer of faking his own shooting, former MIT professor and well-known IT guru John Donovan Sr. was sentenced this week to clean up horse trails that may include some of his own property, according to a Boston newspaper report Wednesday.

The sentence of 200 hours of community service drew comments from law enforcement officials who complained about the sentence.

A spokesman for the Cambridge Police Department likened the community service to "raking leaves," according to a report in the Boston Herald, which quoted police spokesman Frank Pasquarello.

"It was a difficult night," Pasquarello said of the shooting incident. "We had officers up and down Mass. Ave. looking for the gunmen. The next day some people in the building were too scared to go to work."

The shooting incident took place in December of 2005 when Donovan alerted authorities that he had been shot by hit men near MIT in Cambridge. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where he recovered quickly from a superficial wound. Later, prosecutors alleged that Donovan, who has been locked in bitter litigation with his children, faked the episode. He was alleged to have been planning to frame his son for the shooting.

Donovan denied the charges, but he was convicted in August over the protests of prosecutors who sought a jail sentence. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman sentenced Donovan to two years of probation, a $625 fine, and 200 hours of community service. The judge said the incident was "nothing short of bizarre."

In recent weeks, Judge Fishman approved Donovan's community service, which involved working on the Essex County Trail Association near his estate in the swank town of Hamilton, the home of some of the bluest of Boston's blueblood Brahmins. The town also is famous for its horse trails. A report in the Boston Herald noted that some of the land earmarked for Donovan's community service could include property controlled by Donovan family assets.

"There are a lot of people who worked hard that night (of the shooting,)" Pasquarello told the newspaper. "Have him come over and rake their leaves." Donovan couldn't be immediately reached for comment and his attorneys declined to comment.

Donovan is well-known and widely respected in the IT community because of his text books and inspirational speeches. A serial entrepreneur, he started several companies, the most famous of which was Cambridge Technology Partners, which was sold to Novell for $266 million in 2001. The Cambridge Technology Partners operation was recently spun off by Novell.

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