Tuesday, Jun. 09, 2009

Sam Israel

CEO: Bayou Group hedge fund

Convicted: Fraud in April 2008

Sam Israel III, 49, didn't hear any fat lady sing. After his conviction for defrauding investors of more than $450 million, the Connecticut-based executive decided 20 years in prison wasn't quite his style. Instead of reporting for jail in June 2008, he faked his own suicide — not very well, it must be said — by leaving his SUV on a bridge in upstate New York with the message "Suicide is Painless" (from the M.A.S.H. theme song) scrawled on the vehicle's dusty hood. Israel never really had authorities fooled. Video captured by a nearby security camera showed another car pulling up behind his GMC Envoy shortly before it was abandoned; police suspected it was a getaway car being driven by an accomplice. Days later, Israel's girlfriend Debra Ryan was arrested in connection with his disappearance. Finally, after about a month on the lam (and a place of honor on the U.S. Marshals' most wanted list), Israel rode a scooter to a Southwick, Mass. police station on July 2 and turned himself in at his mother's urging. She had been in touch with U.S. Marshals to let them know she had spoken to her son and coaxed him to do the right thing. For failing to report to prison, Israel faces an additional 10 years behind bars; he will be sentenced June 24.

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