MANHATTAN – Samuel Israel III, who cheated investors of $450 million in the Bayou Group hedge funds, disappeared Monday, the day he was supposed to report to federal prison to begin serving a 20-year sentence.
New York State Police told The New York Times that Israel’s SUV was found on the Bear Mountain Bridge 40 miles north of New York City. “Suicide is Painless” was written in dust on the hood, but no body was found and no one reported seeing anyone jump from the bridge or leave the vehicle.
According to the Times, Israel’s girlfriend told state police she last saw him around 9:30 a.m. Monday, when he told her he was leaving to go to prison.
Police said they found the SUV shortly after it had been parked, tracing its movement from the E-ZPass recorded at a tollbooth 300 yards away.
Israel pleaded guilty in 2005 to conspiracy and fraud and was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $300 million in restitution.
An attorney who represented 20 investors who lost $25 million in the Bayou frauds told the Times, “I’ll believe it when I see a body. … It’s just another fraudulent act.”