By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press
BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) — The attorney for an unemployed New York man suspected of faking his own drowning denied Wednesday that his plan included a plot to collect on a life insurance policy.
Raymond Roth of Massapequa was arrested Wednesday on charges including conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and falsely reporting an incident. A prosecutor said Roth and his 22-year-old son, Jonathan, who was arrested last week on the same charges and is free on bond, conspired to cash in on $410,000 in life insurance policies.
The elder Roth pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, and attorney Brian Davis said his client expected to post $100,000 bail and be released.
Roth was arrested earlier Wednesday after being released from a Long Island hospital where he had been receiving psychiatric treatment for about 10 days. Davis added that Roth will receive outpatient treatment for manic depression and bipolar disorder while free on bail. He is due back in court on Aug. 23.
The 47-year-old was reported missing by his son on July 28 at Jones Beach. Authorities conducted a massive sea and air search for him over several days before receiving word that he was alive and staying at a time-share he owned at a Florida resort. On Aug. 2, he was issued a speeding ticket in Santee, S.C., and told police he was returning to New York to meet with police.
Instead of turning himself into state park police, who have jurisdiction over Jones Beach, Roth entered a Long Island hospital. He was not seen publicly until his arrest on Wednesday.
Davis insisted his client was not aware of an insurance scam, blaming his son. Jonathan Roth contacted a life insurance company about cashing in on a policy only three days after reporting his father missing, authorities said.
"The one thing that he expressed was astonishment that Jonathan had made the claim for the insurance," Davis told reporters after the arraignment. "That was not something that had been discussed between them."
Davis explained his client's disappearance, saying Raymond Roth had been under stress after losing his job in mid-July and had been taking a combination of medications that made him act irrationally. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Roth had been fired from his job at a New York City telecommunications company after threatening co-workers. Nassau police later confiscated a handgun that Roth owned and suspended his pistol permit.
The younger Roth's attorney, Joey Jackson, has said his client was abused by his father and coerced into cooperating with the scheme; Davis has denied that allegation.
Raymond Roth's wife, Evana, has told reporters that her husband staged the disappearance without her knowledge. She also implicated her stepson in the scheme, distributing emails that she said were on a family computer in their Massapequa home. Rice said Wednesday that Evana Roth is not a suspect in the alleged scheme.
In an email written thee day before he vanished, Raymond Roth instructed his son to contact him at an Orlando resort to update him on developments following his disappearance. He also put the family's home up for sale just days before he vanished.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that an air and sea search for Roth cost in excess of $30,000.
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