Pacemaker busts Florida fugitives

Man’s treatment at Mercy for bloody nose exposes his, wife’s fraud charges

Roger Gamblin’s bloody nose sent him to Mercy Regional Medical Center last week, where he was treated but also revealed he is a fugitive wanted in Florida for allegedly defrauding his title company clients of $10 million. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Palm Beach Post

Roger Gamblin’s bloody nose sent him to Mercy Regional Medical Center last week, where he was treated but also revealed he is a fugitive wanted in Florida for allegedly defrauding his title company clients of $10 million.

A Florida couple wanted by the FBI on suspicion of stealing about $10 million have been arrested recently at Mercy Regional Medical Center after doctors identified the man through his pacemaker.

Roger Gamblin, 62, and his wife, Peggy, 54, were arrested Dec. 13 at Mercy by the FBI. Authorities have been searching for the Gamblins for about 2½ years on suspicion of stealing millions from clients of their title insurance company in Florida.

A federal grand jury indicted the couple in October 2009 on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They face up to 30 years in prison.

In La Plata County, they were known as Ron and Nancy Jenner.

They rented a cabin for about 2½ years north of Vallecito Lake, said Durango resident Missy Carter, who owns the home.

“They were the best renters I ever had,” she said Monday. “They were very nice. I am devastated to learn they are not who they said they were. I considered them friends.”

Both suspects waived their rights to an identification and detention hearing, said Durango lawyer Michael Goldman, who represented Mr. Gamblin during a brief federal court appearance last week in Durango.

That means they will be transported to south Florida to face fraud charges.

Mr. Gamblin checked himself into Mercy with a bloody nose that wouldn’t stop, said Patrick Trindade, a south Florida resident who has known Roger Gamblin for 25 years.

Pacemakers can be scanned to allow doctors to obtain information about a patient’s heart activity. But the scans also can provide identifying information about the individual. If a scan was done of Mr. Gamblin’s pacemaker, doctors may have seen his name didn’t match hospital records.

People with pacemakers also are encouraged to carry pacemaker identification cards. It is possible Gamblin unwittingly showed his card to a hospital worker who noticed the name on it didn’t match hospital records.

Mercy spokesman David Bruzzese declined to provide details about the hospital’s procedures and how it contributed to the Gamblins being identified.

Trindade said the Gamblins lived an exotic life with parties, fast cars, expensive vacations and a big house in Florida. His high position in the title company industry led few to think he had to resort to stealing millions of dollars to support the lifestyle.

“It was very viable that he made that much money, so no one suspected it,” he said. “He had seven offices.”

Gamblin threw a couple of parties each year attended by 100 to 150 guests. He had a 5-acre garden ranch on a lake, multiple sports cars and antique cars. He enjoyed boating, fishing and golf.

“He would fly food in from all over the country,” Trindade said. “He spared no expense when he entertained.”

His wife’s favorite drink was Dom Pérignon champagne, he said.

The federal indictment accuses the Gamblins of enriching themselves by using escrow money entrusted to their title company for their own benefit.

Buyers, sellers and mortgagees transferred money to the Gamblins’ title company, but before completing the real-estate transactions, the Gamblins fraudulently transferred the money without obtaining approval for such transfers, the indictment says.

“The funds were then used to benefit Roger C. Gamblin and Peggy L. Gamblin and were not available to complete the real-estate transactions,” the eight-page indictment says.

Some of the wire transfer amounts include $2 million, $300,000, $250,000, $150,000 and $100,000,

Roger Gamblin had visited Durango before and possibly fled here because he knew the area, Trindade said.

Peggy Gamblin worked two jobs around Vallecito Lake, Carter said. Roger Gamblin was in ill health and unable to work, she said.

She enjoyed gardening, and both treated the neighbors’ pets as if they were their own, Carter said.

“They always paid their bills on time and took excellent care of the house,” Carter said. “The yard up there looked like something out of Better Homes & Gardens.

“They were just the nicest, kindest people,” she added. “It’s very hard for me to believe that the people I know did this.”

shane@durango herald.com