MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A court appearance for the son of a Massapequa man who was presumed to have drowned off Jones Beach but was later found alive in Florida has been postponed until next Tuesday.
Jonathan Roth was initially due in court on Thursday.
His attorney, Joey Jackson, said Roth is a victim who endured abuse by his father, 47-year-old Raymond Roth. He said their relationship will be a key factor in the case.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports
“It’s safe to say that it is a very strained and I would say unfortunate relationship,” Jackson told reporters. “We’ll be talking a lot about his relationship with his father and how he feels about his father.”
Roth pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud, conspiracy and falsely reporting an incident on Tuesday. A judge set bail at $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash.
Jackson did not discuss the specific allegations against his client, but did address the statements prosecutors said Roth made confessing to alleged scheme.
“Particularly if those statements are on video or memorialized in some way that they could potentially be damaging,” he said.
Prosecutors said the 22-year-old was involved in a plot with his father to obtain more than $50,000 from life insurance policies by helping his father fake his own death.
According to court documents, Jonathan Roth confessed that a frantic 911 call reporting his father had drowned in the waters at Jones Beach on July 28 was a lie.
“The defendant at all times was fully aware that his father never walked into the water and had in fact driven off in his personal vehicle,” the complaint states.
That 911 call from Jonathan Roth triggered an intense air and water search that cost tens of thousands of dollars. While no one actually saw Raymond Roth swim away, the Massapequa man was initially presumed drowned.
But days later, he was found alive in Florida. He was then pulled over for speeding in South Carolina and told the officer, who noticed Roth was on a national registry of missing people, that he was on his way back to New York, police said.
Raymond Roth hasn’t been seen since, but on Wednesday, his attorney Brian Davis said Roth had been involuntarily committed to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Davis said Roth will surrender and face charges in the alleged plot when doctors feel he is no longer a danger to himself.
“He’s being treated right now,” Davis said. “He needs the treatment.”
Raymond Roth’s wife Evana said she believed her husband had drowned until she said she discovered emails between the father and son discussing instructions on what to do about money and the house.
“Jonathan, there needs to be a way for me to find out how things are going. Call me Sunday night at 8 p.m. at the resort. You cannot call from your phone,” Evana Roth’s attorney, Lenard Leeds, read from one of the emails at a news conference last week. “I need to get to the bank for cash for the trip.”
Jonathan Roth was arrested on Monday.
Evana Roth said she was never aware of the alleged plot and said she is filing for divorce.
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