Authorities Question Possible Israel Getaway Driver

Jun 13 2008 | 2:00am ET

Authorities are questioning the possible getaway driver involved in hedge fund fraudster Samuel Israel’s disappearance, and they are increasingly certain that Israel did not commit suicide.

Two local New York television stations report that U.S. Marshals and the New York State Police are questioning a man in connection with Israel, who failed to report to prison to begin a 20-year sentence for defrauding investors of $450 million on Monday. Israel’s SUV was found on the Bear Mountain Bridge, 40 miles north of New York City, on Monday afternoon, with the words “suicide is painless” scrawled in the dust on its hood.

Investigators are trying to determine if the man, whose car was reportedly recorded by cameras at the bridge, was Israel’s getaway driver. A surveillance camera may have caught a second car pulling up alongside Israel’s 2006 GMC Envoy, but failed to capture Israel entering the second vehicle, or even leaving his own.

Federal Marshals are looking into where the man being questions was on Monday. The driver was reportedly tracked by surveillance cameras and E-ZPass records.

The possible break has fortified authorities in their belief that Israel did not jump off the bridge.

Israel “definitely did not jump and is definitely on the run,” a “well-placed” source told WABC’s Eyewitness News. WNBC reports that the Marshals believe Israel is on the run in an RV or mobile home.

Authorities are expanding their efforts to track down Israel. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on Monday, and Marshals issued a wanted poster featuring Israel today. The Marshals have also asked Interpol to put out an international alert for the suspected fugitive. Police are also continuing to search the Hudson River; it can take several days or even weeks for a body to surface after a suicide.

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