|Samuel Israel said he knew he was supposed to surrender on June 9. (Associated Press/ File 2008)|
Swindler admits fleeing after getting sentence
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Hedge-fund swindler Samuel Israel III admitted in court yesterday that he went on the lam last year rather than report to prison.
Israel, 49, is likely to get at least a year added to the 20-year sentence he was given for bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
He calmly told federal Judge Kenneth Karas that he knew he was supposed to surrender on June 9 and understood he was breaking the law when he did not show up.
Israel, cofounder of Stamford, Conn.-based Bayou hedge funds, did not mention the staged suicide that began his flight. Prosecutors say he abandoned his SUV on bridge north of New York City, wrote "Suicide is Painless" in the dust on the hood, and ran.
Investigators checked for a body in the Hudson River below the bridge but also launched a manhunt. They learned from Israel's girlfriend that he had loaded an RV with clothing and a scooter and gone on the lam.
On July 2, after apparently spending a few weeks in a campground, Israel drove up on his scooter and surrendered at a Southwick, Mass., police station. He was returned to Manhattan; a judge sentenced him the next day for the hedge fund fraud and angrily revoked his $500,000 bail.
Israel, who lived in Armonk, N.Y., told that judge he had tried to commit suicide for real after becoming a fugitive but it didn't work "and I realized God didn't want me to do that and I turned myself in."
Israel could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for failing to surrender. But his attorney, Brian Bohrer, said prosecutors told him federal guidelines call for a sentence of a year to 18 months. That sentence would begin when his 20-year fraud sentence - which Bohrer said is being appealed - is finished.