A former MIT business professor and technology expert was convicted Tuesday of attempting to steal millions of dollars from his late son’s estate by a jury in Salem Superior Court, according to the Essex district attorney’s office.
John Donovan Sr., 80, of Hamilton was convicted of numerous crimes, including attempted larceny, perjury and seven counts of forgery, prosecutors said in a statement.
The jury deliberated for four hours before reaching a verdict in the trial that played out over the last month, according to prosecutors.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 16.
The trial caps a decades-long family drama involving Donovan and several of his family members, including his son, the late John Donovan Jr., involving millions of dollars and valuable property on the North Shore.
Donovan was previously convicted of filing a false police report in 2007, after he shot himself in the stomach and claimed that his son had hired two Russian hit men to attack him. He was sentenced to two years of probation. In 2020, a judge found that he misused business funds for personal expenses and ordered him to repay nearly $3 million in damages, legal fees, and interest.
Donovan’s latest legal troubles focus on the estate of his late son, John Jr., who died in 2015.
Staff at the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds in Salem suspected Donovan Sr. of submitting 25 forged documents, including wills, mortgages, deeds and land transfers, prosecutors said.
Had the documents been accepted, Donovan would have been awarded land valued at $5 million meant for a conservation organization, reversed a Superior Court judgment against him, released him from a mortgage, and granted him access to his grandchildren against the wishes of his late son, according to prosecutors.
Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett lauded the work of staff at the registry.
“The general public relies upon the integrity of documents filed with the Registry of Deeds,” Blodgett said. “Thanks to the diligence and professionalism of the staff at the Registry, who raised concerns about the documents filed by Mr. Donovan, this fraudulent scheme failed.”
He also thanked his prosecutors, singling out Jack Dawley, a retired first assistant district attorney.
“I am grateful for the hard work of the trial team,” Blodgett said in the statement. “Especially Jack Dawley, who worked on this case for over five years even after he retired from the office.”
Material from the Associated Press and Globe archives was used in this report.
Maya Homan can be reached at [email protected]