Bayou Group Fraudster’s Girlfriend Charged With Helping Him Flee

Jun 20 2008 | 2:00am ET

Bayou Group founder Samuel Israel had a little help from his girlfriend as he began his life as a fugitive from justice.

Federal authorities yesterday arrested Debra Ryan after she confessed to helping Israel plan for his staged suicide on June 9, the day he was scheduled to report to prison to begin a 20-year term for defrauding Bayou investors of $450 million. She was charged with aiding and abetting Israel’s flight and released on $75,000 bail.

Israel’s SUV was found idling on a bridge over the Hudson River, 40 miles north of New York City, with the words “suicide is painless” written in the dust and dirt on its hood. But the indictment against Ryan shows why law enforcement is so confident that Israel is alive and well and on the run.

She confessed to helping Israel attach a motor scooter to a hydraulic lift onto the back of his recreation vehicle on June 7. The next day, she helped him pack it.

On the day her boyfriend disappeared, Ryan told police that Israel had left their Armonk, N.Y., home at 9:30 a.m. to drive himself to prison. In fact, according to the indictment, he woke her on that morning and followed him—driving the RV—to a rest area in Brewster, N.Y., near the intersection of Interstates 84 and 684. Israel left the RV at the rest area—approximately 20 miles northeast of the Bear Mountain Bridge, where his SUV would be found later that day.

Authorities believe Israel was picked up from the bridge.

The day after Israel failed to show at prison, Ryan “found” a suicide note at their home and turned it over to authorities, the indictment—which authorities say deliberately excluded some information—said.

Ryan was interviewed on “numerous occasions” before she confessed on Thursday.

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