Investigators Probe Possible Israel Getaway Driver, Money Trail

Jun 16 2008 | 2:00am ET

With every passing day, law enforcement is increasingly sure that Bayou Group founder Samuel Israel is alive and well and on the run.

Israel disappeared last Monday, the day he was scheduled to report to prison to begin serving a 20-year sentence for defrauding investors of $450 million. His SUV was found idling on a bridge 40 miles north of New York City with the words “suicide is painless” scrawled on the hood. But his body has not been found in the Hudson River, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service believe that he faked his death.

Cameras on the Bear Mountain Bridge—where Israel’s 2006 GMC Envoy was found idling—caught a car slowing down behind Israel’s SUV, the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., reports. The driver of that vehicle, who may have been Israel’s getaway driver, has been questioned by investigators.

Meanwhile, federal authorities are trying to determine how much money Israel may have stashed to fund his run from the law.

Forensic accountants have been investigating the Bayou case for years, and are now looking for more details that might shed light on Israel’s current means, Reuters reports.

Some of Israel’s investors estimate that he could have several hundred million dollars. Others think the figure could be under $1 million.

“It would be very difficult to have any money stashed away, because he had cooperated with the government to find it,” Ross Intelisano, a lawyer from some Bayou victims, told Reuters. “But then he did wire funds around the world and he might have hid them somewhere.”

The news agency also reports that Israel’s friends and family can expect to be questioned and have their telephones tapped.

Meanwhile, the nascent Sam Israel memorabilia industry has gotten off to a strong start. A Long Island seller is offering one of the missing fraudster’s business card on auction Web site eBay. As of Sunday evening, the piece of hedge fund history—which includes Bayou’s AOL e-mail address—was fetching $41. Bidding is open until Thursday morning.

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Bayou Group Head To Be Sentenced Today


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