MINEOLA, New York — A man already facing prison time for faking his own drowning in an insurance fraud scheme was convicted Friday of impersonating a police detective, but he was cleared of attempting to kidnap a woman authorities said he chased and tried to force into his van.
Raymond Roth showed no reaction when Nassau County Court Judge Tammy S. Robbins ruled after a two-day non-jury trial on Long Island. The judge found Roth not guilty of attempted kidnapping and attempted coercion but convicted him of criminal impersonation, attempted burglary and attempted unlawful imprisonment.
A defense attorney, Brian Davis, had argued that Roth thought the woman he confronted was a prostitute but conceded that Roth was guilty of claiming to be a police officer when he tried to force her into his van. He described Roth's actions as "a lot of big-mouth bravado from somebody who really wasn't in control of all his faculties."
Davis said Roth has a variety of problems.
"It's part mental issues and also part substance abuse," he said. "He cannot drink alcohol. He cannot take illicit substances. And if he's going to drink, he's going to continue to get into trouble."
The trial was the latest in a series of legal problems Roth, 49, has faced since faking his own drowning at Jones Beach in July 2012. Prosecutors said that the day Roth pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in the fake-drowning case last March he went to a Freeport neighborhood and tried to kidnap the woman, Carmen Colon.
Colon testified that she was terrified when she was confronted by Roth as she walked to her job at a check-cashing store. She testified that Roth tried to block her path to the store with his vehicle several times and then followed her into the store, declaring he was a police officer attempting to arrest a prostitute.
"I thought he was going to rape or kill me," Colon testified.
Roth fled after store employees said they were calling police. He was arrested several days later after being identified on a store video.
Roth had been looking at a 90-day jail sentence in the insurance fraud case, but that deal was negated following his arrest on the other charges. He now faces up to four years in prison in that case and could face an additional four years on the latest convictions. Sentencing was scheduled for March 21.
On Wednesday, Roth's son Jonathan Roth was sentenced to a year in jail for his role in falsely reporting that his father had drowned while swimming in their scheme to collect $400,000 in life insurance.
Police marine units, helicopters and officers searched for Raymond Roth for days with no results. A relative later reported he was in Florida.
Davis, the defense attorney, said Roth was pleased with the judge's verdict Friday.
"He's got to do his time," Davis said. "When he gets out we really have to find the appropriate treatment for him. He really has to be under the care of a real top-notch psychiatrist."
Roth also pleaded guilty to violating an order of protection obtained by his estranged wife. She notified authorities that Roth may have faked his drowning after discovering emails written between Roth and his son plotting the ruse.
Prosecutors did not immediately comment on Friday's verdict.