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Friday April 20, 2001

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Professor dies after ingesting cocaine

By The Associated Press

DETROIT - A Wayne State University law professor described as a brilliant scholar died in Canada, where doctors surgically removed a dozen cocaine-filled balloons from his body after he became ill on a trans-Atlantic flight, authorities said

Gennady M. Danilenko died Wednesday in Newfoundland. Danilenko, 45, was on Northwest Airlines Flight 47 from Amsterdam to Detroit Sunday when he was stricken with what was originally thought to be a heart attack.

The flight was diverted to Goose Bay, Newfoundland, where doctors performed emergency surgery and discovered the drugs. The substance was confirmed to be cocaine, Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Susan Feld said.

DEA agents searched Danilenko's home in Ann Arbor yesterday and found nothing significant, Feld said.

"It's kind of bizarre that a person with his degrees and his status would be smuggling like this," Feld said. "We searched his home and didn't find any records or anything we could use." The case could be closed if no one comes forward, she said.

FBI agents in Detroit were beginning an investigation.

Joan Mahoney, dean of the Wayne State law school, said she was surprised by the reports that Danilenko may have been smuggling drugs.

"He's a law professor, and a very reputable law professor, who's an excellent teacher and a brilliant scholar," she said.

Danilenko had taught his scheduled classes last week, Mahoney said. No one accompanied him in Canada, Cpl. Trudy McCabe of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

An autopsy will be performed, McCabe said. She had no information on whether any of the packets had burst.

Northwest Airlines spokeswoman Kathy Peach said she had no details about the incident.

According to the university Web site, Danilenko joined the faculty in 1997 and had served as head of the Center for International Law at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Danilenko was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School, specializing in Russian law. He also taught at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of San Diego.