A former researcher at Mount Sinai’s medical school has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for shooting the dean that fired him.
On the morning of Aug. 29, 2016, Chao, 50, attacked Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with a shotgun outside a deli in suburban New York. In 2010, Charney fired Chao for scientific misconduct. Charney survived the shot, but was hospitalized for five days.
As reported by the Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch yesterday, Judge Barry Warhit sentenced Hengjun Chao to 23 years, each, for attempted murder and assault, to be served concurrently; the maximum sentence for the attempted murder charge that Chao faced was 25 years. The judge also sentenced Chao to the maximum for criminal use of a firearm — five years — which will be served consecutively, bringing the total to 28 years.
In June, a New York jury found him guilty of attempted murder and the two other felony charges.
Stewart Orden, Chao’s defense attorney, told Retraction Watch he was “shocked at the sentence:”
[T]he sentence was grossly excessive for a man driven by a clinically diagnosed, psychiatric [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] defined illness.
Orden added that he will be filing an appeal for both the verdicts and the sentencing. Chao remains in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections.
In 2010, Chao sued Mount Sinai following his termination, but lost on appeal. The Office of Research Integrity declined to pursue the misconduct finding and an ORI investigator later said the Mount Sinai investigation was flawed and inadequate.
A spokesperson for Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. told Retraction Watch:
Judge Warhit saw this as a premeditated act. That resulted in the sentence.
In a statement, the Westchester DA’s office said Chao had been waiting for Cherney:
Video surveillance evidence showed the defendant had stalked the victim for several days prior to the shooting.
When the victim left the deli, the defendant retrieved a loaded shotgun from the trunk of his car. He walked towards the victim, took aim and fired one shot, hitting him in the shoulder and chest area.
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