Feds Rule Out Suicide In Israel Disappearance

Jun 17 2008 | 2:00am ET

State and federal officials said yesterday that they are now certain that Bayou Group founder Samuel Israel did not commit suicide last week and that the convicted hedge fund fraudster is on the run.

The U.S. Marshals Service said that suicide has been ruled out, and the New York State Police acknowledged that they have stopped looking for Israel’s body in the Hudson River. Israel disappeared last Monday, the day he was set to report to prison to begin a 20-year sentence; his SUV was found on the Bear Mountain Bridge, 40 miles north of New York City, with the words “suicide is painless” written on the hood.

But authorities were suspicious almost immediately. Surveillance videos did not catch anyone leaping from the bridge—in fact, they may have caught the getaway driver on tape—and no eyewitnesses saw Israel jump. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on the day he disappeared, and the Marshals and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been looking for a fugitive—and not a body—for a week.

“The evidence doesn’t point to a suicide,” Joseph Guccione of the Marshals told the Associated Press. He said a wanted poster issued last week had produced few calls, and declined to say whether investigators believe Israel was still in the U.S.

Israel pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of $450 million in 2005.

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