This week has not been a good one as far as the reputation of “higher learning” is concerned…and, for once, it had nothing to do with either drugs or bullying!
First of all, there is the case of Falmouth’s own Luk Van Parijs (hereinafter, “Penalized Prof.”, who has just pleaded guilty in Boston’s federal court to white collar crimes.
Penalized Prof. Is a 40-year-old former associate professor of biology from MIT. He was fired in 2005 for falsifying data in scientific papers. The papers concerned experimentation about generating a transgenic mouse in his lab. The charge was making a false statement in a federal research grant application, the US Attorney’s Office said. He is due to be sentenced in June. He faces the potential of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
In 2009, Penalized Prof.’s career began to unravel when the federal Office of Research Integrity found that he had engaged in scientific misconduct by submitting the false data in numerous grant applications. He was also found to have falsified data in numerous scientific publications and presentations and one book chapter.
MIT’s embarrassment was shared today by a local law school today as well. Well, at least a student is embarrassed. And that’s the least of his problems now.
John Ethan Cassidy, a 26-year-old University of Massachusetts School of Law student (hereinafter, “Legal Gunner”) was arraigned today on a variety of firearms charges for allegedly possessing an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9mm pistol, Dartmouth police said. He was arrested yesterday evening as he left the school.
Legal Gunner had moved to the area in August 2010, police said in a statement. He was originally from Spring, Texas. Unfortunately, he was apparently also wanted on a warrant from that state. Law enforcement says he will also face charges at a later date of assaulting his roommate. The guns were apparently uncovered, along with large-capacity magazines and several hundred rounds of ammunition in his apartment.
The judge in New Bedford District Court ordered Legal Gunner held without bail after his arraignment on two counts of possessing a firearm without a firearms identification card, two counts of possession of a large-capacity firearm, two counts of improper storage of a large-capacity firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition.
A dangerousness hearing is planned for Legal Gunner on Monday afternoon.
Interestingly, though, Dartmouth Police Detective Robert Levinson says that he does not believe that Legal Gunner was actually planning an attack. The guns were legally purchased in Texas. Legal Gunner had just never filed the paperwork for a license here in Mass.
I suppose, if he does not already know, he will learn about the importance of such things later on in law school.
Should there be a later on in law school.
25+ years in the trenches of the criminal justice system has taught me many things. One of the is that criminal defendants come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Nobody is immune. No one is immune from making a mistake (or five) and no one is immune from criminal prosecution.
Many people think they are. Some think that they are very clever and can get away with misdeeds that everybody else is either too stupid or busy to notice. Big mistake. You may get away with it once or twice, but these “short cuts” tend to repeat themselves and then the walls someday come a-crumbling down. The Penalized Professor may face incarceration, but he also faces an unceremonious end to his career.
Of course, I don’t know if he is factually guilty or what the circumstances were, but, if he did actually do what they say…it was quite a chance to take. Several times.
“But, Sam….he pleaded guilty! He would not do that if he was not guilty, right?”
The sad truth is “not necessarily”. Anyone with any experience in the criminal justice system will tell you that people do plead guilty in situations where they (off the record) indicate that they are not guilty, if only to minimize potential prison terms. For example, in the federal system, a defendant can win points which can reduce a sentence by accepting responsibility.
Speaking of lapses of judgment, Legal Gunner has problems now in two states, apparently. While the detective may not see him as a threat, even if he wins the dangerousness hearing, he is likely not going home…unless he still considers Texas “home”, that is.
I do not know what charges he has pending there, but they issued a warrant for his arrest. The next step in such a case is what is called “extradition”. The issue there is whether this is, indeed, the gentleman wanted by the Texas authorities. Should it be found that he is, Texas will have a certain amount of time to come and pick him up. In the meantime, he will remain a guest of the Commonwealth.
You would be surprised how this type of thing can mess up a finebudding legal career. On the other hand, perhaps he will somehow end up without any criminal convictions in either state. Heck, maybe he will even represent himself! After all, that is his right.
My advice? Not a great plan. I have a hunch that he is not all that experienced with handling criminal cases in either jurisdiction.
And you know how important I think it is to have an experienced defense attorney at your side…!
Be you a professor, student or something in between, and you are facing criminal charges, feel free to give me a call at 617-492-3000 to set up a free initial consultation if you would like to explore my representing you.
To view the original stories, please go to: http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/2011/03/fired_mit_profe.html?p1=Local_Links and http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/03/umass_law_stude.html?p1=Local_Links