By Ben Dobbin
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A former New York prison guard whose police-recruit girlfriend disappeared in Florida in March has been charged with faking an injury to enable him to retire on disability, state police said Friday.
Authorities arrested David Perry, 46, late Thursday night for an unspecified traffic violation in Allegany County, about 80 miles west of his home in Elmira.
He was charged with three felony counts of insurance fraud, grand larceny and fraudulent insurance practices and was accused of fabricating an injury while working in the Elmira jail in 2003, state Trooper Mark O'Donnell said.
Perry was ordered held without bail in Broome County Jail in Binghamton, the county in central New York where a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arraigned in a town court outside Binghamton, and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Messages were left for his attorney, Thomas Reilly.
Authorities in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., have been seeking to question Perry about the disappearance of 35-year-old Kelly Rothwell, a police academy recruit. The two were living in Rothwell's condo when she disappeared. Perry moved back to Elmira soon after.
Perry has refused to take a DNA test or even talk to authorities beyond having his lawyer give them a loose timeline of the night Rothwell disappeared. His attorney has said Perry has the right not to talk to authorities and that Perry got upset when investigators recently asked him for a DNA sample.
"He tells me he did nothing, he doesn't know where she is," Reilly said in an interview last month.
According to New York Department of Corrections records, Perry was hired in 1986, went on sick leave in 2004 and never returned to duty. He retired in 2005.
On March 12, Rothwell told a close friend over lunch that she was going to break up with Perry. The normally sunny Rothwell was becoming increasingly disturbed at his possessive behavior, friend Donna Scharrett said, and had decided to move out of the condo.
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She hasn't been seen in almost two months. Detectives, family and friends grimly concede there's a good chance she is dead.