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DA: Son of man feared drowned is arrested

Jonathan Roth leaves the Nassau district attorney's office

Jonathan Roth leaves the Nassau district attorney's office in Mineola. Roth was charged with insurance fraud and filing a false report in connection with his father Raymond's disappearance, a DA spokesman said. (Aug. 6, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The son of the Massapequa man presumed drowned at Jones Beach who turned up later in South Carolina was arrested and charged Monday with insurance fraud in connection with his father's disappearance, the Nassau County district attorney's office said.

Jonathan Roth, 22, was charged with second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false report, a misdemeanor, a district attorney spokesman said. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the charges and is scheduled to be arraigned today in First District Court in Hempstead, the spokesman said.

After his arrest Monday afternoon, Jonathan Roth was transferred to the district attorney's office, state park police officials said.

The younger Roth told Newsday on Saturday that he was unaware his father, Raymond Roth, 47, was going to disappear as part of what his stepmother Evana Roth said Friday was a suspected plot to collect life insurance money.

"I had no idea about this plan, this plot, whatever you want to call it," Roth told Newsday.

Raymond Roth's whereabouts were still unknown Monday and authorities have not spoken with him in recent days.

Meanwhile, the missing man's wife, Evana Roth, 45, said she was the victim of domestic abuse. She went to Family Court in Nassau County Monday and got an order of protection barring her husband from having any contact with her.

Her lawyer, Lenard Leeds of Carle Place, conceded that there was little chance of actually serving a court order on a missing man.

"We're trying to have the sheriff look for him" to serve papers, Leeds said.

Roth's son told police on July 28 that his father had gone for a swim at Jones Beach that afternoon and did not return.

"I was just so mad," the son said Saturday, two days before his arrest by state park police. He said he remembered thinking, "How could you leave me at the beach that day? I thought you were dead."

Authorities obtained a search warrant for the Roth house in Massapequa and seized a computer early Friday morning with emails that Evana Roth said were instructions from the father to the son on how to reach him in Florida. Jonathan Roth told Newsday on Saturday that he had never gotten such emails.

Leeds said his office was also served with a search warrant for materials related to the case, and that he was cooperating.

Raymond Roth, an unemployed telecommunications manager, was presumed drowned until Wednesday, when an officer in Santee, S.C., ticketed him for speeding. Police believe he initially fled to Orlando, Fla., where he has a timeshare.

The South Carolina officer let him go because it's not illegal to be a missing person, police said, and investigators in New York said Roth promised state park police here that he'd meet with them upon his return to Long Island.

Judge Frank D. Dikranis of Nassau County Family Court signed the order of protection after Leeds argued in court that Evana Roth "was terrified" of her husband.

She said later Monday in a news conference with Leeds that she had been physically and verbally abused for much of the 12 years of her marriage. She said she had never filed a police report, "but my nose was broken when I tried to help his son. My nose was broken by Raymond."

She said last week that Roth sent her a text message to "be nice" after hearing that she was going to hold a news conference to accuse him of faking his death.

" 'Be nice' is Raymond's way of saying, 'Be careful,' " she said, adding that she has not heard from him since.

Capt. Bruce Marx of the state park police, which has jurisdiction at Jones Beach, said Monday he did not know where Raymond Roth was.

This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Lenard Leeds' name.

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