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Man faked his own death to avoid sentencing; Spelling errors gave it away, DA says

Posted at 12:17 PM, Jul 23, 2020

NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island — A man allegedly faked his own death in order to avoid being sentenced in two open cases, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's office.

Officials said Robert Berger, 25, used his attorney to provide a county prosecutor with a fake death certificate. The document had typos, which tipped off officials, according to the statementfrom the DA's office.

“Typos and formatting errors gave up what we allege is a forged death certificated that this defendant used to avoid accountability for other crimes,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in the statement released this week. “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.”

In 2018, officials said Berger pleaded guilty to charges related to his possession of a stolen Lexus; he also pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny for attempting to steal a pickup truck.

On Oct. 22, 2019, attorneys for Berger told the court their client had died and provided the court with a New Jersey Death Certificate, stating the defendant died by suicide.

The attorney said Berger's fiancé provided them with the document.

Upon inspection of the certificate, officials said the font size and type were not consistent in the document, and the word “Registry” in the department name was misspelled as “Regsitry."

After calling to verify the certificate with officials in New Jersey, investigators confirmed the certificate was fraudulent.

A copy of the false death certificate was also provided to officials in Suffolk County, where Berger also had a pending criminal case, officials said.

After the discovery, Berger was arrested on Nov. 14, 2019, in Pennsylvania and was held for charges including providing a false identity to law enforcement.

Berger was arraigned Tuesday and is due back in court on July 29. Bail was set at $1 but he was remanded in custody due to the previous cases that remain open.

This story originally reported by Corey Crockett on