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Suspect in Indian Rocks Beach police cadet's disappearance arrested in New York on larceny charge

David Perry, the suspect in the disappearance a year ago of Indian Rocks Beach police cadet Kelly Rothwell, was arrested Tuesday in New York on a second-degree grand larceny charge, authorities said.

Officers arrested Perry, Rothwell's former longtime, live-in boyfriend, at his home in Elmira, said New York State Police Sgt. Arthur Cady.

Authorities there said Perry has received more than $300,000 in fraudulent disability checks in the past several years.

"Essentially, the allegations are that he filed a false claim with the New York State disability retirement fund," said Brooks Baker, the district attorney in Steuben County, where the charges were filed.

Perry is a 47-year-old, retired New York corrections officer..

Rothwell, 35, was last seen March 12, 2011. She told a friend at lunch that day that she was going to break up with Perry.

Perry left for Elmira, N.Y., the night Rothwell was reported missing, detectives said. He has repeatedly ignored authorities' requests to interview him.

On Monday, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced a $50,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of Rothwell.

Rothwell's family members, who attended the news conference, said they believe the young woman is dead.

Perry was arraigned Tuesday in New York on the grand larceny charge, which carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison, Baker said.

Perry requested the hearing be continued to next week so he could have a lawyer present. Steuben County Court Judge Joseph Latham then remanded him to jail. The judge set a bail of either $100,000 cash or $200,000 real property, Baker said.

Perry remained in jail Tuesday night.

Pinellas officials said they didn't have any immediate plans to travel to New York, saying Perry has been consistently uncooperative.

New York officials have been building their case against Perry for a while, and in February took the case to a grand jury, which handed up an indictment last week.

"I believe (investigators) had been working on this for just over a year," Baker told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday.

It was unclear Tuesday when Perry retired from his job as a jail deputy and what disability claims he made. He has been receiving the benefit checks since February 2005. In fact, he still may be getting them, Baker said.

Perry also faces similar grand larceny charges in Broome County, N.Y., Baker said.

He said that in that case, Perry is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a workers' compensation insurance fund.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643.

Suspect in Indian Rocks Beach police cadet's disappearance arrested in New York on larceny charge 03/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 8:10pm]
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