Suicide or Prison?


On June 9, 2008, Samuel Israel III was supposed to begin his 20-year prison term for fraud, stemming from his conviction when he served as CEO of a now-defunct hedge fund named Bayou Management.

But now he's gone missing and possibly has committed suicide. The New York state police found his car parked on a bridge with keys in the ignition. The bridge crosses the Hudson River at one of the Hudson's deepest points. Written in the dust on the car's hood was the sentence "Suicide is Painless," which is the name of the M.A.S.H. theme song. No body has been discovered.

Bayou claimed it had more than $400 million in assets when it folded back in 2005. But when it closed its doors, investors found an empty office and a suicide note (which turned out to be false). The investigation found that investors lost that more than $400 million, and Israel and a partner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud in 2005.

For some reason the judge let Israel go free until June 9 of this year, when Israel was supposed to surrender to start his prison sentence.

Any guesses as to where he is now? In the Hudson River or in Mazatlan or Cuba or any number of places? NBC is reporting surveillance cameras possibly show another car pulling up next to Israel's car and maybe someone getting into it.

It seems most likely that Israel has snookered another group of people — law enforcement, so far — though that may well change if they catch him. Or if they drag his body out of the Hudson River. Regardless, this definitely is not the best way to handle a conviction.

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