Bayou Group Founder A Possible Suicide

Jun 10 2008 | 2:00am ET

Bayou Group co-founder Samuel Israel failed to report to prison yesterday and may have committed suicide.

Israel was scheduled to report to federal prison yesterday to begin serving a 20-year sentence for his role in defrauding investors of $450 million at the collapsed hedge fund group. A car registered to him was found at the Bear Mountain Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River 50 miles north of New York City. Police say the words "suicide is painless" were found written in dust on the car's surface.

New York State police are looking into whether Israel, who had sought a more lenient sentence based on his numerous health problems and cooperation with the government’s investigation of Bayou, killed himself. No body has been recovered.

Israel was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April, after pleading guilty to fraud charges almost three years ago. Daniel Marino, who co-founded Bayou with Israel, received four-and-a-half years for his role, while former CEO Daniel Marino also received 20 years.

If Israel has committed suicide, he would be the second convicted hedge fund fraudster to end his life in three weeks. Kirk Wright, convicted of defrauding investors of more than $150 million in his International Management Associates, hanged himself in his jail cell over Memorial Day weekend. He was awaiting sentencing.

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