UI medical research director pleads guilty to misdemeanor, remains on paid leave


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University of Iowa medical research director Gary Hunninghake pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in Cook County Circuit Court on Monday, according to the county’s State Attorney’s Office spokesman, Andrew Conklin.

Hunninghake, 64, of Coralville was originally charged with felony disorderly conduct after he allegedly filed a false report with Chicago police.

Hunninghake claimed three men approached him while jogging in Chicago on the morning of April 24, 2010. He told officers the men threatened him, demanded his wallet, and repeatedly stabbed him. He was brought to the hospital in critical condition.

Police identified numerous inconsistencies in Hunninghake’s statement and determined he fabricated the story and the stab wounds were self-inflicted. He later turned himself in to Chicago police.

Hunninghake was sentenced to 14 months of conditional discharge and 40 hours of community service and ordered to pay $15,565 in restitution to the Chicago police.

UI police began an investigation into Hunninghake on April 22 for unspecified reasons, and university officials placed him on paid leave on April 23.

University officials decided not to press charges after concluding their seven-month investigation into Hunninghake, and, per his request, officials did not release a report detailing that investigation.

Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, is backing legislation that would force UI employees to pay back any salary earned while on administrative leave if they are convicted of the crime that spurred that leave. He said he’s unsure if the bill would apply to Hunninghake, because the crime he pleaded guilty to wasn’t what put him on leave in the first place.

“Without knowing the details of the university’s investigation, I can’t make a judgment on Hunninghake’s case,” Kaufmann said. “But I’ll give the university the benefit of the doubt in this situation.”

An internal audit of the UI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, which Hunninghake formerly directed, found no wrongdoing.

The audit, commissioned by the state Board of Regents, investigated Hunninghake’s travel expenses, salary, and purchases between July 2008 and October 2010.

University spokesman Tom Moore said Hunninghake is still on paid administrative leave but refused to comment further.

“Anything further remains confidential,” he said.

Hunninghake has an annual salary of $360,000.

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