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Police say anger was retired West Michigan doctor's motive for stealing furniture, artwork from Florida inn

Police say anger was retired West Michigan doctor’s motive for stealing furniture, artwork from Florida inn
By Barton Deiters | The Grand Rapids Press

May 08, 2010, 7:00AM

Footage allegedly showing Roger Gemmen stealing

Roger GemmenWhen police showed Dr. Roger Gemmen a grainy surveillance video of a man carrying expensive artwork out of a hotel, Gemmen’s alleged response was direct.

“I’m not a very sophisticated criminal,” he allegedly told police this week.

The retired surgeon with stately homes in Park Township and affluent East Naples, Fla., is accused of walking off with $8,500 worth of furniture and artwork from the posh Inn on Fifth in Naples.

Gemmen, 75, has not had a license to practice since 1991 but earned enough during his career to buy a now million-dollar Lake Michigan home just north of Holland State Park and a home next to a private golf course in Florida.

The Florida home is decorated with items he took from the hotel, said Michael Herman, Naples Police Department spokesman.

A police report details the items: a wood desk priced at $2,500; paintings of sheep and Venice worth $1,000 each; a painting of a horse and carriage valued at $1,500; three paintings of ships worth a collective $1,500; and two wooden chairs with pineapple designs on the cushions worth $1,000.

The inn’s owner noticed items had been disappearing from his business since 2001 but was unable to determine how the stuff was going out the door, Herman said.

But in February, a pair of chairs upholstered in a pineapple design were taken and an employee noticed the SUV they were being loaded into had Michigan plates, Herman said.

One of the chairs reported stolen.During a March visit to the inn by Gemmen, an employee got the license number for the 1994 Toyota 4-Runner with improper registration, police said. That led authorities to his home in Florida and to Gemmen himself, who was back in the Michigan.

Police in Naples got a warrant to search the home there, and the inn’s owner identified several items, Herman said. Police then contacted Gemmen, who told authorities he was sorry for what he had done and wanted to make amends, according to a police report.

He returned to Naples on Tuesday and confessed, Herman said.

“(Gemmen) specifically told the investigators that it was not a crime of greed, but an expression of anger toward an individual,” Herman said, adding the alleged thefts do not appear to have any direct connection to the inn’s owners or employees.

“He was mad at somebody and that is how he decided to deal with it.”

Ottawa County records show Gemmen with two homes in Park Township, the one near Lake Michigan worth about $1.2 million and one on Ottawa Beach Road worth almost $400,000.

Homes in the neighborhood where Gemmen’s Florida property is located are valued around $600,000, according to Real Estate databases.

Naples police arrested Gemmen on seven counts of grand theft, which carries a maximum five years in prison. He was held in the Collier County jail, but is now free on $17,500 bond.

Gemmen has no felony convictions on his record and the Michigan Department of Community Health notes no disciplinary action taken against him when he was a licensed physician.

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