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MAN, FIANCEE ARRESTED OVER FALSE DEATH REPORT

A man suspected of faking his death in Hurricane Bonnie's rough surf to avoid criminal charges was arrested Friday at a diner along with his fiancee, the only person who claimed to have seen him go under.

Antonio Mandarino Jr., 23, and Kimberly Kuda, 21, were charged with conspiracy, causing false public alarm and drug charges. Ms. Kuda was also charged with filing a false police report.

"It's a big misunderstanding," Mandarino told reporters.

Ms. Kuda reported Monday that Mandarino was knocked down by a big wave in knee-deep water and dragged out to sea at Point Pleasant Beach, where the hurricane had caused rough surf and dangerous riptides.

After a two-day search by more than 100 people, including divers and helicopter pilots, rescuers concluded Mandarino had drowned.

But authorities became suspicious because Mandarino, a painting contractor accused of passing bad checks and other offenses, was facing a Sept. 14 court appearance.

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