Ex-MIT professor denies attempting to swindle family

Former MIT professor John Donovan Sr. appears in a Cambridge courtroom on Aug. 6, 2007. –Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe, File

BOSTON (AP) — A former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who once falsely claimed his own son had arranged to have him shot denied charges that he tried to swindle his now dead son’s family out of millions.

Prosecutors on Thursday announced that 75-year-old John Donovan Sr., of Hamilton, was indicted on several charges for allegedly forging his youngest son’s signature to gain title to at least four properties that had been left by him. That son, John Donovan Jr., died in 2015 at age 43.

The senior Donovan is also accused of forging and fabricating a variety of other documents related to his son’s final will.

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He told The Boston Globe he was shocked to hear of the indictment.

‘‘I know nothing about this,’’ said Donovan, a millionaire who made a fortune in technology and who last taught at MIT in 1997.

He said John Donovan Jr. gave him ‘‘power of attorney,’’ which granted him broad powers to act on his behalf.

‘‘Why do I have to forge something if I have power of attorney?’’ he asked. ‘‘It’s inconsistent.’’

His arraignment has not been scheduled.

He was found guilty in 2007 of staging his own shooting. He said he was attacked by two Russian hit men while getting into his car on the night of Dec. 16, 2005. Prosecutors say he shot himself in the stomach in an attempt to frame one of his sons.

His four surviving children, from whom he is estranged, issued a joint statement to the Globe saying their father ‘‘has a long history of making false statements and lying.’’

‘‘As the indictment clearly indicates he tried to steal from his youngest son’s widow and children, his own grandchildren,’’ the statement said.