Raymond Roth entered a Freeport check-cashing business a year ago in pursuit of a woman and announced that he was a police detective sent to arrest a prostitute, employees testified Thursday.
Roth, 49, of Massapequa -- the same man who admitted faking his death at Jones Beach in a botched life insurance scam -- is on trial in Mineola in a separate case, accused of impersonating a cop and attempted kidnapping.
Authorities said Roth posed as an officer on March 21, 2013, and tried to lure a pedestrian into his white van. Claudia Colon, then 38 and three months pregnant, refused and ran inside her place of employment, PLS Check Cashing.
"She was screaming. She was crying," assistant manager Estafany Corona Bonifacio testified. Bonifacio and manager Austria Ventura said Roth entered the store minutes after Colon took refuge behind a locked door.
When the employees asked Roth to show his badge, they said he claimed he didn't have to. They refused to open the locked door, sparking an angry outburst by Roth, the witnesses said.
"I am the police. I am going to get my people to shut the whole place down," Roth said, according to Ventura.
The employees called police, but Roth fled before officers arrived. He was arrested later without incident.
The employees' testimony was corroborated in part by the store's surveillance video, which lacked sound.
Colon parked her car near the corner of Pine and Church streets and was walking to work when Roth began following her in the van, Nassau Assistant District Attorney Everett Witherell said Thursday in his opening statement.
Witherell said Roth told her, "Get into the car. I am the police. You're under arrest." Colon ran down the street, with Roth chasing her in his car.
Defense attorney Brian Davis of Garden City said Roth was looking for prostitutes that day and may be guilty of harassment or stalking, but not attempted kidnapping. Roth did not show a fake police badge, wear a police uniform or display a gun, Davis said.
The bench trial is scheduled to resume Friday before Nassau County Court Judge Tammy Robbins. Colon is expected to testify. If convicted of attempted kidnapping, Roth faces 31/2 to 15 years in prison.
Roth has admitted to the July 2012 insurance scam and is awaiting sentencing in that case. He faces a maximum of 11/3 to 4 years in prison, plus nearly $37,000 in restitution for search efforts.