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Man Who Faked Own Death Pleads Guilty

Massapequa man who reported drowning at Jones Beach last summer takes plea deal.

The Massapequa man arrested last summer for faking his own death at Jones Beach has plead guilty to conspiracy charges.

48, will serve 90 days in jail and be on probation for five years under the terms of a plea agreement he made with the Nassau County District Attorney's office.

He will not be prosecuted on the top charge of insurance fraud.

"He never admitted but we never denied that he was guilty of the misdemeanors in this case," Roth's lawyer Brian Davis said.

Roth also agreed to pay more than $36,000 in restitution to authorities for the costs of the massive search that took place after his son, Jonathan Roth, reported him missing on July 28.

More than $27,000 will be paid to the U.S. Coast Guard while the remaining $9,109 must be paid to the Nassau County Police Department before Roth is sentenced on May 21. 

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Roth admitted to prosecutors that he executed a plan to fake his own death, drove his son Johnathan to the beach, telling his son to report him missing where he turned up a few days later. 

"I don't think he ever got his feet wet," Davis said.

Roth believed his son and his wife would receive more than $410,000 in insurance benefits, prosecutors said.

He checked into South Nassau Communities Hospital before his arrest, he told judge Tammy Robbins in Nassau County Court. 

"At that time, I tried to commit suicide and was diagnosed as bipolar," he said.

Roth said that he is taking several medications related to the diagnosis. He appeared somewhat agitated when he walked into the courthouse before his appearance, snapping at a reporter who asked if he'd like to make any apologies.

"Apologies to who?" he said.

Roth, who lost his job with a communications company, is now enrolled in culinary school, according to Davis.

His son remains charged in the scheme, which was one of the factors that led to him taking the plea deal, according to Davis.

"He wanted to make sure Jonathan wasn't going to jail," he said, adding that while prosecutors made no promises concerning Roth's son related to the plea deal, there have been discussions. "I spoke to [Everett] Witherall, the ADA on the case and I think Jonathan is not going to do any time," Davis said.

Davis said he's still unsure as to what motivated Roth's actions although he feels his mental condition played into it.

"He certainly wasn't thinking correctly...he needed treatment," Davis said. "I think part of the way he looked at the world at that time was to make that escape that everyone envisions for himself, every once in a while. I'm going to escape to that desert island and I'm going to work in a tiki bar down in Florida or work on a fishing boat. And where most of us, after we have the thought, we put it out of our minds and go back to work, he actually put it into effect."

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Chris March 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
What a doofus!
Chris Wendt March 22, 2013 at 02:27 PM
At least they structured the restitution deal correctly. Penance due before the sentencing, just to make sure. I am sure many people might appreciate hearing a general apology from Roth, but I doubt anyone is actually expecting that. Everyone who walked the beach and watched the surf that day had Roth's safety in their minds, and his family in their hearts, especially as the hours grew later and later.
Lou March 24, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Well said Chris.
Lou March 24, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Actually both Chris'

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