The Massapequa man accused of faking his own death last month is denying that he was trying to cash in on $410,000 in life insurance policies after authorities said he was fired from his job for threatening to kill his boss recently.
Raymond Roth pleaded not guilty Wednesday at Nassau County court to charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy in and falsely reporting an incident. His 22-year-old son, Jonathan, pleaded not guilty last week to the same charges and was later freed on bond.
The 47-year-old surrendered to authorities after being released from the psychiatric ward at South Nassau Communities Medical Center—where he was admitted after the alleged fake-death plot was exposed by his wife, who has since filed for divorce.
Jonathan Roth had reported his father missing July 28 after Raymond went swimming off Jones Beach, sparking a four-day search that cost local, state and federal authorities more than $30,000, prosecutors said.
Raymond Roth later turned up at his vacation home in Orlando, Fla.—after driving there in a Honda Accord he had told his wife he sold, authorities said. He was stopped for speeding Aug. 2 in South Carolina while driving back to New York.
“A real tragedy might have occurred had there been an actual emergency while crucial rescue efforts were being employed in the search for Raymond Roth,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.
New York State park police had said the elder Roth had called them while he was en-route to Long Island and said he would meet with them, but instead was committed.
The elder Roth’s attorney, Brian Davis, told reporters that his client was not trying to steal the life insurance payout and pinned that part of the alleged scheme on Roth’s son.
“The one thing that he expressed was astonishment that Jonathan had made the claim for the insurance,” Davis said after the arraignment. “That was not something that had been discussed between them.”
He said his client was on medication that made him act irrationally. Rice said his handgun was confiscated and his pistol license was suspended after he allegedly made the workplace threats sparked by a demotion at the telecommunications company that then fired him.
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, had shared with police and reporters emails between her husband and his son that she said detailed the alleged plot. She is not a suspect in the case and has said her husband cleaned out her bank accounts.
Her husband put their home up for sale days before his disappearance. His bail was set at $100,000, which his lawyer said he is expected to post.
-With Associated Press