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Long Island Man Accused Of Faking His Own Death To Avoid Being Sentenced

The allegedly phony death certificate.
The allegedly phony death certificate. Photo Credit: NCDA

A Long Island man facing prison time for two felony charges allegedly attempted to fake his own death using a typo-riddled phony death certificate, authorities announced.

Huntington resident Robert Berger, 25, has been charged with faking his own death and using his attorney to provide a Nassau County District Attorney prosecutor with a false death certificate to allegedly avoid being sentenced on two open cases.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said that Berger had been facing sentencing on two felony charges in two unrelated cases in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Berger had previously pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property when he was caught in a stolen Lexus in 2018 and attempted grand larceny for attempting to steal a pickup truck in 2019.

Singas said that on Oct. 22 last year, the cases were up for sentencing, however, a representative from the firm of Berger’s former attorney, Meir Moza, notified the court that he had died.

Moza said he and Berger’s attorneys would provide proof of death to have the pending sentences of Berger dismissed and abated by his death. Moza subsequently provided Singas’ office with a New Jersey Death Certificate for Berger’s death.

The faux death certificate alleged that Berger died of suicide by suffocation. Moza indicated to the court and District Attorney’s Office that he was provided the certificate by Berger’s fiancé.

However, Singas said that upon inspection of the certificate, it was noted that font type and size changed throughout the document. Additionally, prosecutors found that the word “Registry” in the department name was misspelled as “Regsitry” in the “ISSUED BY” section.

After calling to verify the certificate with the New Jersey Department of Health, Vital Statistics, and Registry, investigators confirmed the certificate was, in fact, fraudulent.

According to Singas, in addressing these discoveries to the court, Moza informed the judge that based upon his own internal investigation, he believed that Berger engaged in a conspiracy and used him to attempt to perpetrate a fraud upon the court, prosecutors, his firm, and himself.

Moza indicated that he would make an application to the court regarding ending his representation of Berger based upon learning those facts.   

A copy of the bogus death certificate was also allegedly presented in Suffolk County in connection with Berger’s pending criminal case there.

Singas said that further investigation found that Berger had left the state and was arrested on Nov. 14 last year in Pennsylvania, and was being held at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility for charges that included providing a false identity to law enforcement in that state.

Following his arrest in Pennsylvania, Berger was extradited to Nassau County on Jan. 21 and he’s currently being held.

Berger was charged with offering a false instrument for filing. Bail was set at $1, but he was remanded into custody on the old cases and is scheduled to appear back in court on Wednesday, July 29, when he will face a maximum term of one to four years in prison on the new charge.

“Typos and formatting errors gave up what we allege is a forged death certificated that this defendant used to avoid accountability for other crimes,” Singas said. “Submitting fake documents to prosecutors is always a bad idea, and while he’d have been caught regardless, failure to use spell check made this alleged fraud especially glaring.”

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