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Bizarre Conspiracy Plot Unravels

Massapequa men arrested on insurance fraud charges

Email messages uncovered by the wife of Raymond Roth untangled one of the more bizarre criminal attempts to come out of Long Island in recent years.

On Wednesday, Aug. 15 Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the arrest of Roth, a Massapequa resident, on counts of insurance fraud, conspiracy and falsely reporting an incident. This follows the Aug. 6 arrest of Roth’s son, Jonathan, also of Massapequa, on those same charges, plus that of making a punishable false written statement.

The drama began on July 28 when Jonathan Roth reported his father as missing in a call to Nassau County police. The younger Roth told police that his father was lost in the waters off Jones Beach, last wearing black mesh shorts. On the beach, Rice said, police found other material belonging to the elder Roth, including clothes, a wallet and a telephone, but not a driver’s license.

Federal and local authorities immediately sprang into action, with the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York State Park Police, Nassau County police, plus Bay Constables from the towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay, all conducting an extensive four-day search for Raymond Roth.

However, on Aug. 1, the plot unraveled. Roth’s wife found email messages between her husband and stepson, Rice said. On the basis of those emails, Jonathan Roth was arrested. Meanwhile, on Aug. 2, Raymond Roth, while in his automobile, was pulled over by police in Santee, SC. Roth, Rice said, was identified by his driver’s license, which he had pulled out of his wallet before fleeing Jones Beach for Orlando, FL, where the latter has a timeshare. To end the drama, Rice would only say that the elder Roth had surrendered to police on the morning of Aug. 15.

The purpose of faking Roth’s death, Rice said, was for the latter to collect up to $410,000 in insurance funds. Rice said that in July, Roth, who had experienced several demotions at his job in Manhattan, had begun to harass his work colleagues with death threats. On July 20, Roth, Rice said, was fired from his job, with police from Nassau County’s Seventh Precinct confiscating his handgun. Roth, Rice added, believed that his life insurance would expire by July 31 and so the conspiracy took place before the end of the month.

When he fled New York, Rice said that Roth had hoped to relocate in Orlando to live off the insurance monies. Rice added that under the terms of the insurance policy, it was “unlikely” that any release of such a large sum of money would ever transpire.

Rice also said that video surveillance tapes actually showed father and son together on the beach on July 28, the day Jonathan Roth reported his father missing. The two traveled to Jones Beach on that day in separate cars, a fact that eluded county police since they were not told to look for an automobile, Rice said.

Rice praised the work of federal and local authorities. She also emphasized that the county would also seek full restitution from those charged for the costs the alleged crime has cost taxpayers.

“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,” Rice said. “Luckily, that was not the case, but my office will aggressively prosecute these crimes and seek full restitution for the public resources that were wasted by Mr. Roth’s criminal fraud.”