MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island man accused of faking his own death in an alleged scheme to collect on life insurance policies pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges on Thursday, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced.
Raymond Roth looked directly at the judge as he admitted to the scam, WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall reported.
Under the terms of the plea deal, Roth agreed to serve 90 days in jail and five years of probation, Rice announced. In addition, Roth must pay restitution to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Nassau County Police for the search efforts, totaling nearly $37,000.
If Roth, who is now enrolled in culinary school, had gone to trial, he would have faced five years in prison. He told the judge Thursday that he is bi-polar and needs medication. He managed to delay his jail time until he finishes coursework and an internship, CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“This case easily could’ve turned tragic had an actual emergency occurred while this defendant sent first responders on a wild goose chase,” Rice said. “Fortunately, that was not the case, and the restitution Mr. Roth is ordered to pay ensures that the taxpayers won’t foot the bill for his scam.”
Prosecutors said the 47-year-old was reported missing by his 22-year-old son, Jonathan Roth, in a frantic 911 call, saying his father had disappeared in the waters off Jones Beach on July 28 of last year.
That 911 call 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.
“He certainly wasn’t thinking correct. You heard that he spent two weeks at South Nassau, he needed treatment. There was a suicide attempt while he was in there,” Roth’s attorney, Brian Davis, told Hall. “I still can’t figure out the motivation.”
“While authorities, friends and neighbors searched tirelessly for Mr. Roth, he was on his way to his timeshare at the West Gate Lake Resort in Orlando, Fla.,” Rice said at the time of Roth’s arrest.
Prosecutors said the father-son duo hatched the scheme to fake the elder Roth’s death in hopes of cashing in at least $410,000 in life insurance policies.
Prosecutors said the pair’s plan was for Jonathan Roth to try to file a claim on July 31.
“Though it is very unlikely that insurers would have paid on the policies pursuant to Mr. Roth’s directives, he nonetheless attempted to defraud insurers, abandon his problems at home, and begin a new life in Florida,” Rice said.
The alleged plot was discovered when prosecutors said Roth’s wife, Evana, stumbled on emails between father and son discussing details of the plan.
The younger Roth was later arrested and charged in connection with the case. The 22-year-old pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud, conspiracy and falsely reporting an incident. He is now free on bail.
Davis said he does not expect Jonathan Roth to do any jail time.
Raymond Roth is due to be sentenced on May 21 and faces a longer jail sentence if he does not show up for that court appearance, according to Rice.
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