Former assistant professor found guilty of attempting to murder Icahn medical school dean

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A jury found a former assistant professor guilty of attempting to shoot New York City-based Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Dean Dennis Charney, MD, last summer, according to the Hudson Valley News Network.

Hengjun Chao was charged and found guilty of one count of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree criminal use of a firearm after he attempted to shoot Dr. Charney outside of a deli Aug. 29, 2016.He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a court appearance in October 2016.

During his testimony Monday, Mr. Chao said he did not try to kill or hurt Dr. Charney out of revenge. Rather, Mr. Chao told Assistant District Attorney Christine O'Connor he attempted to shoot Dr. Charney to "expose" his alleged unethical relationship with GlaxoSmithKline, according to The Journal News. Mr. Chao said Dr. Charney allegedly encouraged physicians to prescribe Plaxil despite being aware of its potential to increase suicidal tendencies in teenagers.

Dr. Charney fired Mr. Chao from his position as an assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai in 2009 after incidents of "research misconduct." Mr. Chao claimed he never doctored data and said university officials retaliated against him for making a similar claim against one of his researchers, the report states.

Mr. Chao said in court the only way to bring those allegations to light was to get arrested. He said he decided to use a gun given the public's sensitivity to gun violence, the report states. Mr. Chao also said he staked out Dr. Charney's home and learned his daily routine.

Prosecutors said Mr. Chao's choice of weapon indicated the incident was "not a spur of the moment" act and that he had intended to kill the dean. They claimed the attack was a form of retribution and that Mr. Chao's claims regarding Dr. Charney's alleged relationship with the drug manufacturer represented a "clear campaign of character assassination," according to the report.

Dr. Charney testified in court June 8, stating he had been shot and spent five days in Mount Sinai's intensive care unit "fighting for his life."

Mr. Chao's sentencing will take place Aug. 16, HVNN reports. He may spend up to 25 years in prison.

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