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Man accused in faked drowning leaves trail leading to his arrest

Raymond Roth accomplished a lot while supposedly dead, police say.

He drove to Florida, got a speeding ticket in South Carolina, and sent emails to his son back home in New York. On Wednesday, he added another feat to the list: He was arrested on charges of insurance fraud in a case that has highlighted a faked death gone comically awry, and dysfunctional family woes.

A day after his 22-year-old son, Jonathan, who is charged in the same case, was released on bond, the elder Roth faced arraignment in a Long Island court after a bizarre odyssey that began with a supposed swim off Jones Beach on July 28.

Roth, 47, never came out of the water, his apparently distraught son told police when he called to report his dad missing that evening.

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But four days later, after a search of the sand and ocean off of Jones Beach that involved divers, boaters, a helicopter, and police, the case began to unravel. Raymond Roth was stopped for speeding in South Carolina, and his stunned wife, Evana Roth, said she had found emails indicating a conspiracy involving her husband and stepson.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Nassau County prosecutors, the two men “executed a plan to create the false impression that Raymond Roth had died.”

The complaint said the pair planned to collect more than $50,000 in proceeds from Raymond Roth’s life insurance. Prosecutors say the younger Roth confessed to the scheme after being arrested Aug. 6, but he told them he had been forced to take part in it by his father. The father’s attorney, meanwhile, has claimed that the insurance scam was the son’s idea.

“My client’s intent was to disappear, not to cash in on a life insurance policy,” Raymond Roth’s attorney, Brian Davis, said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. “It was never my client’s intent to make a claim." 

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Davis told the Long Island newspaper Newsday that Roth just wanted to escape the “pressures of bills” after losing his job as a manager at a telecommunications company. He said the fact that his client used his real name when he checked into a Florida resort showed there was no criminal intent.

Evana Roth has filed for divorce from Raymond Roth. During a news conference last week, she produced printouts of emails that she said showed communication between Raymond and Jonathan Roth pointing to a conspiracy.

Raymond Roth did not speak to reporters as he was led to police headquarters Wednesday, with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was expected to plead not guilty to charges of insurance fraud and conspiracy. His son, who pleaded not guilty to the same charges last week, is free on $10,000 bond.

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