A man who faked his drowning off a beach on New York's Long Island, touching off an extensive and expensive air and sea search, has accepted a plea bargain that includes a 90-day jail sentence and a $37,000 bill.
Raymond Roth, 48, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty Thursday to fourth-degree conspiracy. Prosecutors said he and his son, Jonathan Roth, plotted to collect about $400,000 in life insurance.
On July 28, Jonathan Roth told authorities his father went for a swim at Jones Beach and never came back. Responders searched for him for several days, while Roth was actually on his way to his timeshare in Orlando, Fla., prosecutors said.
"This case easily could've turned tragic had an actual emergency occurred while this defendant sent first responders on a wild goose chase," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.
Roth's wife found emails between Raymond and Jonathan Roth discussing the plot, and authorities were alerted.
On Aug. 2, Raymond Roth was issued a speeding ticket in Santee, S.C., and told police there he was returning to New York to meet with authorities. He did not show up for that meeting and was not arrested until Aug. 6.
His lawyer, Brian Davis, said Roth had been admitted to a hospital for psychiatric treatment and had tried to commit suicide there. Davis said Thursday that he believes the plea bargain is fair.
"At this point, he wants to put it behind him," Davis said.
The case against 22-year-old Jonathan Roth is pending, the district attorney said.
Raymond Roth's plea bargain includes five years of probation. He must pay the Coast Guard $27,445 and the Nassau County police $9,109.
"The restitution Mr. Roth is ordered to pay ensures that the taxpayers won't foot the bill for this scam," Rice said.
If Roth fails to pay the money, he could be sentenced May 21 to up to four years in prison.
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