Stupid Criminals: Pacemaker Tracks Down Embezzler

19 Dec

So you have this perfect scheme figured out. Snatch $10 million from your company and disappear. Change your name, settle in another state on the other side of the country, enjoy your ill gotten money, and no one will ever know. Sounds like a plan.

But what happens when your pacemaker tells on you?

It seems that Roger and Peggy Gamblin did just that. Two years ago. They apparently embezzled $10 million from their company Flagler Title Insurance and disappeared to Colorado. Unfortunately for Roger he had a pacemaker and ended up visiting the hospital because of some cardiac issue. He of course used his newly fabricated Colorado name. When the physician caring for him checked his pacemaker, he discovered that it was not registered to the gentleman who had checked into the hospital but rather to one Roger Gamblin. He reported this to authorities and the Gamblins were promptly arrested.

You see pacemakers and other body appliances, such as artificial hips and the like, have serial numbers etched into them. These numbers are easily traced to the manufacturer, the doctor who implanted the device, the hospital where it was done, and of course the name of the person who received it. Such serial numbers are often used to determine the identity of an unknown corpse. A body that is found with no identifying paperwork but which has a pacemaker, an artificial hip, or some other medical appliance, can then be identified through the serial number on these devices.

In Roger Gamblin’s defense, he was probably unaware that his pacemaker could be tracked in this way. But even if he did, what was he to do? Take it out himself? Not go to the hospital when he was having some cardiac problem? Likely he was either unaware or simply hoped it would slide through the system without being picked up. Fortunately he was identified.

Don’t you hate it when something you trust tells on you? I remember as a kid, around age 5, me and a buddy decided we would climb this whistle tower at a mill a block from where I grew up. The goal was to grab an egg from one of the many pigeon nests tucked into the nooks and crannies just beneath the top platform. At 5 proving your manhood is a big deal. The tower was maybe 50 feet high, and of course local lore said that if the horn/whistle sounded while you were on the tower, you would be electrocuted and die. Now that is a challenge. What kid wouldn’t do that? So off we went.

Unfortunately for us, my dog decided this was not a wise idea and immediately ran home to get my mother. He pulled a Lassie on me. He barked at the door until mom answered and then led her–you know, barking, running, turning around to see if she was following–to where we were. Near the top of the tower.

That was the only dog I ever owned. Traitor. Now I have cats. Cats can be trusted. Cats are very circumspect. Or is it that they don’t really care what you do as long as you use your thumbs to open cans for them? At least that’s how it works with The Bean.

The Bean


11 responses to “Stupid Criminals: Pacemaker Tracks Down Embezzler

  1. Gayle Carline

    December 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Cats are atheists. Dogs believe there is a Giant Hand that will smack you if you’re on the furniture, even if your people aren’t there. Cats believe if there’s no one around, who’s to know?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      December 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      And if they had thumbs they wouldn’t need humans at all.


  2. Suzanne Arruda

    December 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Cats do too know that there’s a God. Someone changes the litter box.


    • Jonathan Quist

      December 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      If that’s the case, I’m afraid my cats are agnostic.

      And sometimes, the dogs attempt to change the litterbox, to prove they don’t need us.

      Doug, The Bean seems quite intimidating! He’s chewed the handle off the ceremonial sword on that pony!

      Slightly off-the-wall but on-topic question…

      Some implants will survive cremation, some (such as a pacemaker containing a battery) would pose safety and environmental hazards. Are implants, as a rule, removed prior to cremation? And for those, such as titanium joints which potentially contain useful raw materials, are the parts recycled?


      • D.P. Lyle, MD

        December 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

        Bean is a wimp and a mama’s boy. Let the house alarm go off or a earthquake hit and he’s under the bed. No questions asked.

        Yes. pacemakers and other appliances are typically removed before cremation.


  3. Kate B

    December 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    At least you don’t have a bird. Birds can talk.


  4. Pat Marinelli

    December 20, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Hi Doug,

    Funny dog story. Love Bean. He’s looks huge but cute. We have one cat who needs the can opened and one who will only eat dry food, thus needing the bag opened. Love them both.

    A question. I just had cataract surgery and they put in artificial lenses. Are they registered also? The reason I ask is that I didn’t get a card for the first eye done.

    Hubby tells me all the time how stupid people are in genreal but criminals in particular.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      December 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

      No I don’t think lenses have serial numbers etched into them.


  5. former medical transcriptionist

    December 20, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    If the criminal with the pacemaker had had some of the heart doctors in my area, he likely would have gotten off scot-free, privacy intact. Too many of them thought mumbling was FUNNY. One literally laughed on the dictation.

    I adore cats. They do care. They will tell on you too if they think you need it; they just don’t necessarily feel obliged to blab all the time.


  6. Marni Graff

    December 23, 2010 at 9:20 am

    The Bean has incredible markings and that inscrutable stare that always makes me think cats know things their humans don’t. Our two dogs, on the other hand, can always make their needs known. . .

    I have two artificial knees and it made me stop and think: if these are removed prior to cremation, is there any way whilst they are waiting for the ‘recycle’ man, DNA could be taken from them?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      December 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

      The implants are titanium or some other metal so they wouldn’t yield DNA but any tissues or blood attached surely could. I assume that’s what you meant.



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