Verdict is bittersweet for doctor’s friends
The co-executors of the doctor’s estate will go to court to prevent the widow from profiting.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. — Donna Moonda’s conviction in the murder-for-hire of her husband is a bittersweet moment for those who knew Dr. Gulam Moonda.
“We are pleased with this verdict, but the sad fact is, he is gone,” said Dr. Ravi Sachdeva, a Hermitage surgeon and longtime friend of Dr. Moonda.
Dr. Sachdeva was not in the courtroom on Friday when the verdict was read, but he was called to testify during the two week-long trial in Akron.
He told jurors that Donna Moonda stopped returning his calls after the murder. She also did not attend a memorial service for her husband or contribute to a $25,000 reward fund his friends offered.4
Dr. Sachdeva, along with Dr. Iftikhar Chatha, are the co-executors of Dr. Moonda’s multimillion-dollar estate. Prosecutors contend the estate was the motive for the plot to kill the doctor.
She won’t profit
Dr. Sachdeva said Donna Moonda’s portion of the estate will now be given to the other heirs because she is prohibited under Pennsylvania’s Slayer’s Act from profiting from the crime. He said now that Donna Moonda has been convicted, they will be able to go to court and prevent her from receiving any of the assets.
Dr. Sachdeva said he has known the 48-year-old widow since she was 19 or 20 years old and believes her involvement with drugs was the main problem. “That got her thinking all screwed up,” he said.
Prosecutors contended at trial that Donna Moonda got involved with drugs in the 1990s after the sudden death of her father. She was fired from her job at UPMC Horizon in Greenville, Pa., after hospital officials discovered her taking fentanyl, a potent painkiller. She was charged in Mercer County common pleas court and entered a no contest plea.
After her arrest, she entered into a Beaver County, Pa., drug rehabilitation program where she met Damian Bradford, a small-time drug dealer who would later become her lover.
Bradford testified that the widow promised him half of her inheritance if he killed Dr. Moonda.
Moonda was shot in the side of the head after his wife pulled their Jaguar off to the side of the Ohio Turnpike.
Bradford pleaded guilty to federal charges last year and is expected to receive a 17 1/2-year sentence for his cooperation at Moonda’s trial.
Dr. Sachdeva said he was aware of Donna Moonda’s drug problems, but had no idea she was having an affair.
During trial it was revealed that Dr. Moonda learned of the affair about six months before his May 13, 2005, death and the couple talked of divorce.
Sachdeva said Dr. Moonda did not tell any of his close friends or relatives about his wife’s affair.
The doctor said he has no preference whether Donna Moonda is sentenced to life in prison or death. He did say that Dr. Moonda’s family in India is in favor of the death penalty.