The 22-year-old man who told police his father was missing from Jones Beach has been arrested for allegedly helping execute the fake disappearance so his father could cash in on his life insurance policy, Nassau County prosecutors said.
Jonathan Roth pleaded not guilty Tuesday at Nassau County court on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy, falsely reporting an incident and making a punishable false written statement.
A judge set his bail at $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash. Roth’s girlfriend told reporters outside court that she doesn’t think he will be able to afford bail.
Roth was taken into custody more than a week after his father, Raymond, mysteriously disappeared after the younger Roth reported to police that his father went missing after taking a dip in the ocean at Jones Beach.
A search for the elder Roth was halted after New York State Parks police learned that he was alive and well in Florida, where his wife Evana said he was vacationing at a resort. While heading north, Roth was stopped on Interstate 95 in South Carolina for speeding.
Police on Long Island were under the impression that Roth was driving back to the Island to discuss the incident, but that never happened. He hasn’t been seen since the traffic stop.
ABC-7 reported that Roth checked himself into a mental hospital. Police couldn’t confirm or deny that report.
While Roth’s whereabouts remains a mystery, his son is in jail for allegedly helping execute a plan “to create the false impression that Raymond Roth had died,” according to the criminal complaint.
The plot included “the defendant making a false report to the New York State Park Police at Jones Beach, so as to obtain over fifty thousand dollars in the proceeds from life insurance policies,” the complaint alleges.
The younger Roth’s role in the his father’s disappearance first came to light after Roth’s wife said she stumbled on emails that suggested he may have faked his death. Police seized the computers inside Roth’s house, which was recently put up for sale.
According to court documents, Roth told police on July 28 that he saw his father walk into the ocean at Jones Beach field 6 and hadn’t seen him since. Police began a massive search that reportedly cost thousands of dollars.
“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,” court documents read.
Prosecutors said in the complaint that Roth admitted on Monday that his initial report was false and that “he knew so at time he signed it.”
Roth’s wife told reporters Friday that her husband lost his job last month and speculated that he disappeared out of desperation. She also said that Roth emptied out her bank account prior to leaving for Florida.