The Massapequa man who surrendered to police Wednesday on charges that he faked his own drowning to collect insurance money had barely been free for three hours when he violated a restraining order by calling his wife three times on her cellphone, authorities said.
Raymond Roth, 47, returned Thursday morning to arraignment court where he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor criminal contempt charges. Prosecutors said he called his estranged wife, Evana, beginning about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the third time saying, "Evana, you know who this is," when she answered.
Roth posted $10,000 bail and was released just after noon Thursday, leaving with his brother from First District Court in Hempstead. Prosecutors had asked Judge Eric Bjorneby to hold Roth on $1 million bail, but Bjorneby declined. Roth was released from custody at about 4 p.m. Wednesday after posting $100,000 cash bail. He pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and falsely reporting an incident.
At a news conference at the Carle Place office of her lawyer, Lenard Leeds, Roth's estranged wife, Evana Roth, 45, said she was terrified when she heard her husband's voice on her cellphone. She has said she was the victim of domestic abuse throughout their 12-year marriage.
"He said, 'Hello Evana. I love you. You love me,' " Evana Roth recalled, saying the calls had come from a number she did not recognize. She said Raymond Roth told her they needed to speak about selling the house.
Prosecutor Dan Looney said in court that Raymond Roth had admitted to calling his wife but had said, "I was nice to her."
Raymond Roth's lawyer, Brian Davis, of Garden City, said his client did not fully understand the order of protection when it was served on him in a psychiatric facility Aug. 6. He said Roth was not remembering events from one day to another.
Prosecutors said Raymond Roth's son, Jonathan Roth, 22, called police on July 28 to fraudulently report that his father had disappeared in the waters off Jones Beach. Raymond Roth surfaced the morning of Aug. 2 when he was stopped for speeding by police in Santee, S.C.
Jonathan Roth was arrested and charged Monday with lying to the police, then trying to cash in on his father's life insurance policy. He has pleaded not guilty to the same charges that his father faces and is out on bail.