New York man arrested, suspected of faking his own drowning as insurance scam

A man who was reported missing at a New York beach but later turned up in Florida, was arrested Wednesday. He is suspected of faking his own drowning in order to cash in his life insurance policy.

Frank Eltman/AP
Jonathan Roth, (l.), listens as his attorney Joey Jackson speaks to the press following Roth's appearance at Nassau County Court in Mineola, N.Y., Tuesday. Jonathan Roth is out on bail while facing charges that he helped his father try to fake his own death in an alleged insurance scam at New York’s Jones Beach on July 28.

A man suspected of faking his own drowning at a New York beach in a scheme to collect on a life insurance policy was arrested Wednesday at the hospital where he was receiving psychiatric treatment.

Raymond Roth arrived at state park police headquarters in handcuffs wearing a blue polo shirt and white pants. He didn't speak to reporters.

He was scheduled to be arraigned in a Long Island courtroom later Wednesday on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and falsely reporting an incident. Roth will plead not guilty, attorney Brian Davis said.

Roth was arrested at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, where he had spent about 10 days.

The 47-year-old was reported missing by his son on July 28 at Jones Beach. The elder Roth was later reported to be in Florida and got a speeding ticket in South Carolina.

His son was arrested last week. According to court documents, the pair conspired to get more than $50,000 in life insurance money.

But Davis said his client was not aware of an insurance scam, blaming Jonathan Roth.

"My client's intent was to disappear, not to cash in on a life insurance policy," Davis told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He said Jonathan Roth is the one who tried to cash in on the policy just days after reporting his father's disappearance. "It was never my client's intent to make a claim."

Days after his disappearance, Raymond Roth was reported to be at a resort in Orlando, Fla. On Aug. 2, he was stopped going 90 mph in Santee, S.C. Police there saw that Roth was listed in a national registry of missing people. Roth said he was returning to New York, and the officer let him continue driving north; he never showed up for a planned meeting with police, and his attorney later revealed that he instead had been admitted to a hospital for depression.

Jonathan Roth, 22, was arrested last week and is free on $10,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, filing a false report and other charges. In court papers, Jonathan Rothadmitted to investigators that the drowning never happened.

He "was fully aware that his father never walked into the water and had in fact driven off in his own personal vehicle," according to the criminal complaint. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The younger Roth's attorney, Joey Jackson, said his client and his father had a "strained" relationship. He also claims that Jonathan Roth was abused 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.

In one dated the day before he vanished, the elder Roth instructs his son to contact him at an Orlando resort to update him on developments following his disappearance. Raymond Roth put the family's home up for sale just days before he vanished.

Evana Roth also said her husband had recently been fired from his job in New York City.

Police estimated that an air and sea search for Roth cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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