Samuel Israel III

Samuel Israel III

Samuel Israel III (born July 20, 1959 in Louisiana) was a hedge fund manager for the fraudulent Bayou Hedge Fund Group, which he founded in 1996. Though Christian, he comes from a prominent Jewish-American family with roots in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2008, Israel was convicted and sentenced to twenty years for his involvement in a $450 million fraud. He was immediately released on bail.

His 2006 GMC Envoy was found abandoned on the Bear Mountain Bridge on June 10, 2008 with the words "Suicide is Painless", the title of the theme song from the M*A*S*H TV series, written on the hood. Police suspected that this was an attempt by Israel to fake his own death in order to avoid prison. Israel's girlfriend Debra Ryan was arrested for aiding and abetting his escape later in June 2008, and was released on bail. According to police, Ryan admitted that she and Israel parked an RV loaded with Israel's belongings near Bear Mountain Bridge on the day before his disappearance. The pair have been featured on America's Most Wanted.

Israel surrendered to federal authorities on July 2, 2008. NBC aired a Dateline segment about him on September 5, 2008.

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