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New York man admits faking his death

By Morgan Winsor, CNN
March 23, 2013 -- Updated 0044 GMT (0844 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Raymond Roth gets 90 days, probation for conspiracy plea
  • Roth was subject of several days' intense search in ocean off Long Island
  • Ruse was discovered when he was pulled over in South Carolina
  • Case still pending against son, who reported him missing

New York (CNN) -- A New York man who was accused of faking his death last summer pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Thursday, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced.

Raymond Roth, 48, of Massapequa, New York, was first reported missing in the waters off Jones Beach late last July by his 22-year-old son, Jonathan Roth. Several days into an extensive search involving multiple agencies, New York State Park Police said, authorities learned the missing man was in South Carolina, where he had been pulled over for speeding.

The day before Raymond Roth was pulled over, his wife, Evana, showed authorities e-mails she had discovered that appeared to detail a plan between him and his son to fake his death. Raymond Roth wanted his wife and son to collect at least $410,000 in life insurance benefits while he started a new life in Florida, Rice said.

State police arrested both men in early August on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy and filing a false report. Raymond Roth on Thursday agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge in exchange for a sentence of 90 days in jail and five years' probation, the district attorney's office said. He also must pay restitution for the cost of the search -- $27,445 to the U.S. Coast Guard and $9,109 to the Nassau County Police Department.

Evana Roth told CNN in August she thought her husband devised the plan after he was fired from his job in July. Her attorney, Lenard Leeds, said she had been unaware of the ruse before she uncovered the e-mail correspondence.

"There needs to be a way for me to find out how things are going. Call me Sunday night at 8 PM at the resort," Raymond Roth wrote in an e-mail to his son the day before the son reported him missing.

The son's case is still pending, the district attorney said. Jonathan Roth's attorney, Joey Jackson, defended his client after his arrest, saying, "There was abuse here, manipulation here, coercion here" from the father.

Raymond Roth's attorney, Brian Davis, denied in August that Roth had involved his son in the scheme.

"We had issues concerning the facts people had whether (Roth) had an agreement with his son," Davis told CNN on Thursday. "He's admitted it now. He's accepted responsibility."

Davis added that his client has been under treatment for bipolar disorder in recent weeks.

During plea negotiations, Raymond Roth asked the district attorney's office not to give his son jail time, Davis said.

On the advice of both their attorneys, father and son have not been in contact since their arrests, Davis said.

"He would like to straighten things out with (Jonathan) when the time comes," he said.

Read the latest news on CNN.com

CNN's Jim Kavanagh contributed to this report.

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