Israel’s Girlfriend Faces Decade In Prison

Jun 23 2008 | 2:00am ET

Debra Ryan helped her boyfriend, Bayou Group founder Samuel Israel, escape from a 20-year prison sentence. Now, she’s facing half as much time herself.

Ryan was arrested Thursday and charged with aiding and abetting Israel’s flight. If convicted, Ryan faces as much as 10 years in prison. She is currently free on $75,000 bail.

Israel was sentenced earlier this year to 20 years in prison for his role in defrauding Bayou’s investors of more than $400 million. He was scheduled to report to a federal prison hospital in Massachusetts on June 9.

Instead, his SUV was found idling on a bridge north of New York City with the words “suicide is painless” scrawled in the dust on its hood. But investigators quickly suspected Israel had staged the “suicide” and fled.

Ryan confirmed those fears, admitting that she helped Israel prepare a recreational vehicle in the days before he fled, and even helped him stow the RV at a rest area 20 miles from the Bear Mountain Bridge, where his SUV was found, and then drove him back to their Armonk, N.Y., home.

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