A Massapequa man accused of helping his father fake his own death in an alleged insurance scam was ordered held without bail during a court appearance on Friday.
An arrest warrant was issued for Jonathan Roth, 23, after he skipped out on a court appearance last week. He was scheduled to be sentenced on charges of fourth-degree conspiracy and first-degree falsely reporting an incident.
A swarm of bounty hunters apprehended Roth in Groveport, Ohio – about 12 miles south of Cleveland – after he was tracked there by investigators from Hempstead-based Empire Bail Bonds. He was brought back to Long Island late Thursday night and appeared Friday morning before Judge Tammy Robbins at the Nassau County Court in Mineola.
“What we do customarily in terms of bounty hunting, is we use a lot of trickery,” said Michelle Esquenazi, the president of Empire Bail Bonds. After the company’s representative used a “confidential informant,” they were able to track him through the GPS in his cell phone. When they arrived to the house, an “undercover” female bounty hunter seduced the men inside and convinced the occupants to open the door. “In this case, we put forth the female. The gentlemen were interested and we take the house,” Esquenazi said.
During the court appearance, prosecutors asked that Roth be remanded to the county jail. Assistant District Attorney Everett Witherell noted that Roth has an active warrant in Suffolk County stemming from a domestic violence case.
In that case, which remains open, he allegedly harassed his former girlfriend after she obtained a court order barring him from contacting her. He has not yet been arraigned in Suffolk and has not entered a plea for that case. A spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office was not immediately available for comment.
His Manhattan-based attorney, Joey Jackson, did not object to the prosecutions request that bail be denied. “The objective is to resolve the case completely and that’s what we’re looking to do,” he said outside the courtroom.
“I don’t think there was any intent on his part to leave and not be detected. It would be fool hearted. Even prior to him going, we had a deal in the works with the prosecutor that would allow him to lead a law-abiding life in the future,” Jackson said.
A spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office said prosecutors have not yet decided if Roth’s deal will stay on the table.
Roth pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and false reporting charges in March after admitting to reporting his father, Raymond Roth, missing from Jones Beach in August 2012. The elder Roth had faked his own drowning death in the Atlantic Ocean in an alleged bid to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in life insurance benefits for his family members.
During the massive search, Raymond Roth was found alive in South Carolina while en-route to his timeshare in Orlando. His ex-wife allegedly discovered emails between her husband and stepson, Jonathan Roth, in which the two discussed the plan to fake the father’s death, prosecutors said at the time.
Raymond Roth was sentenced to 90 days in jail for his part in the alleged insurance scam. Hours after his sentencing, police allege he impersonated a police officer and attempted to kidnap a woman in Freeport. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and remains incarcerated at the Nassau County jail after a judge repeatedly denied him bail.