updated 8/14/2007 6:13:19 PM ET 2007-08-14T22:13:19

The son of a millionaire business guru accused of staging his own shooting during a family dispute testified Tuesday that his father had threatened to “ruin” him.

John Donovan Sr., a former MIT professor, is on trial on charges he faked a shooting in 2005 to gain the upper hand in a battle over family trust funds that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Prosecutors said he then falsely accused his oldest son, James, of hiring would-be killers.

He is charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum one-year sentence.

James Donovan testified Tuesday that his father called him a “demon” and said he should be careful because he had young children and a lot to lose. The father warned: “I will ruin you,” James Donovan said.

The younger Donovan also told the court that because of the dispute, he moved his family from his house in Hamilton, less than a mile from his father’s second home, to another state.

Donovan, 65, a business professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1969 to 1997, made a name for himself as a technology guru. He commanded big fees as a sought-after speaker to Fortune 500 companies, started more than a dozen companies and published 11 books.

He adamantly denies any role in his shooting and insists he was attacked by two strangers on the night of Dec. 16, 2005.

Donovan, wounded in the abdomen, said he had been saved from more serious injury by a large belt buckle. But the emergency room doctor who treated him said he did not see the type of injuries he would expect if the belt were on when the shots were fired.

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