Stolen Gems Found In Student's House

$100,000 in Harvard Property Recovered

James Arthur Hogue, a Harvard Extension School student and a convicted felon, was arrested Monday by Harvard police for allegedly stealing an estimated $100,000 in precious gems, minerals and other property from the Harvard University Mineralogical Museum, police said yesterday.

Hogue, who has compiled a long arrest record and several aliases, had stockpiled a cache of gold, silver, rubies, opals and more than 100 other precious and non-precious gems and minerals stolen over the last nine months from the museum, police said.

Hogue, 33, was arraigned in Somerville District Court yesterday on seven counts of receiving stolen property, according to Jill Reilly, spokesperson for the Middlesex County District Attorney. Hogue was unable to post a $1,500 cash bond and is being held at the Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge, police said.

Hogue had previously enrolled at Princeton University in 1988 under the alias "Alexi Indris-Santana." In 1991, Princeton Borough Police discovered him and arrested him for breaking and entering and for leaving Utah under a false alias. Both crimes were violations of his parole agreement, according to reports in The Daily Princetonian and The Peninsula Times-Tribune.

As part of one of the largest recoveries in Harvard police history, an investigation spearheaded by Detective Richard Mederos, Detective Paul Westlund and Sgt. Kathleen Stanford led Harvard police to Hogue's residence at 82 Marion St. in Somerville.


When the three officers went to Hogue's residence as part of their investigation of the convicted felon, they observed some of the stolen property, which was later recovered.

Monday morning, Mederos, Westlund and Stanford obtained a search warrant and returned to Hogue's residence in the afternoon. They then found more stolen gems and other University property including furniture, books and a microscope valued at $10,000, according to police reports of the incident.

"This is one of the largest, if not the largest recovery dollar-wise in the history of the department," Harvard police Lt. John F. Rooney said yesterday.

Associate Curator of the Mineralogical Museum Carl A. Francis said he had been away all last week and was unaware of the arrest, but was "delighted if some of our stolen property has been returned."

In an interview yesterday, the detectives involved in the investigation said Hogue gained access to the stolen property through his work as a "casual employee" of the Mineralogical Museum.

Like books in Widener Library, many of the museum's gems remain in an archive that is packed with so many other specimens that it is impossible regularly to check all of the museum's holdings for thefts, Mederos said.

In the course of his employment with the museum, Hogue had free access to the property stored in the museum's archive, said Mederos, the arresting officer.

Because only a handful of other Harvard employees have access to the archives, the thefts went undetected until Harvard police began their background investigation of Hogue and his work at the museum, police said.

Harvard police initially investigated Hogue, who served one year of a five year felony burglary sentence in a Utah state prison, after the police received a tip that Hogue was a student at Harvard's Extension School, Lt. Rooney said yesterday.

An employee of Harvard Extension School's registrar's office confirmed yesterday that Hogue is enrolled at the school for this semester. Rooney said Hogue has been in the Cambridge area for the past nine months.

Assistant Curator of the Mineralogical Museum William C. Metropolis has identified the recovered gems as Harvard property, Rooney and Reilly said yesterday.

Metropolis could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Some of the gems Harvard police recovered were from as far away as Kazakhstan and some dated back to 1815. The stolen property is being held and catalogued by the Harvard police.

Hogue is due back in court on May 21, Reilly said. The case may proceed directly to Superior Court, where Hogue could face multiple counts of felony charges of larceny greater than $250, Rooney said

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