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Cops: 'Missing man' posed as cop, stalked women

Raymond Roth is led into the Nassau County

Raymond Roth is led into the Nassau County Police Department Detention Facility in Mineola. (March 27, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau police on Wednesday arrested Raymond Roth, the Massapequa man who faked his own drowning at Jones Beach last summer, on new charges that he twice posed as a police officer and ordered women to get into his van.

One incident occurred just hours after he entered into a plea deal last Thursday on a conspiracy charge in the unrelated fake-drowning case, police said.

Roth, 48, was arrested about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday by detectives in Nassau's First Squad, Insp. Kenneth Lack said.

Police charged Roth with attempted kidnapping, two counts of first-degree criminal impersonation and one count of attempted burglary, said Det. Lt. Robert Galgano, commander of the First Squad. He will be arraigned on those charges Thursday morning in First District Court in Hempstead, Galgano said.

Roth's attorney, Brian Davis of Garden City, said his client will plead not guilty to the new charges.

It was unclear Wednesday whether the new charges would affect the plea deal on Roth's faked disappearance. The Nassau district attorney's office declined to comment on the new charges or any impact these could have on Roth's plea deal. However, a law-enforcement source said it almost certainly would affect the deal.


The new charges

Galgano said Roth is being charged in connection with at least two incidents this month in which he identified himself as a police officer and demanded that a woman get into his white, wood-paneled van.

In the first incident, on March 16 near the Freeport railroad station, Roth identified himself as a police officer and demanded that a woman get inside his van, Galgano said. She refused and he did not get out to pursue her, Galgano said.

The second time, last Thursday, hours after he pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree conspiracy charge in the fake-drowning case in return for a sentence of 90 days in jail, Roth drove his white van up to a 38-year-old woman as she walked down Main Street in Freeport and demanded that she get in, authorities said.

When she refused, Roth identified himself as a police officer and said she would be arrested if she didn't obey his orders, police said.

The woman fled into PLS Check Cashing, 10 E. Sunrise Hwy., and asked employees there to let her inside their secure area, which they did. Roth, wearing a black trench coat, followed her into the store and tried to get into the secure area, Galgano said. Employees called 911, but Roth fled before police arrived, Galgano said.

A worker at PLS Check Cashing on Wednesday deferred questions about the incident to a manager, who was on vacation.

Police also are investigating a third incident, Galgano said, adding that his squad is working with Freeport police in their investigation.

Anyone with information about the cases should call 800-244-TIPS, he said.

Fake-drowning case

Roth's plea deal had concluded one of the summer's most notable cases. Authorities said he staged his own drowning on Jones Beach in July so his family could collect insurance money.

Roth admitted that before disappearing, he drafted a will that he hoped would pay $410,000 in insurance benefits for his wife, Evana, and son, Jonathan.

But as the Coast Guard, Nassau Police Bureau of Special Operations, its marine unit and a helicopter searched during four days, Roth fled to his timeshare condo near Orlando, Fla., prosecutor Everett Witherell testified in court.

Prosecutors contend Jonathan Roth, 22, who called police to report that his father had disappeared in the ocean, was in on the scheme. Jonathan Roth was arrested in August and charged with lying to the police and trying to cash in on his father's $50,000 life insurance policy.

Jonathan Roth's case is still open. His attorney, Joey Jackson of Manhattan, said his client's father remains "innocent until proven guilty. But this doesn't speak very well of him."

Evana Roth was never charged in the case and has denied knowing about the scheme. Her attorney, Lenard Leeds of Carle Place, declined to comment on her behalf Wednesday, saying "she wants to move on with her life."

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