Samuel Israel III

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Samuel Israel III
Samuel Israel III.jpg
Born (1959-07-20) July 20, 1959 (age 59)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
OccupationFormer hedge fund manager and investment advisor
Criminal statusIncarcerated
Criminal chargeFraud
Penaltysentenced to 22 years

Samuel Israel III (born July 20, 1959) is an American-born former hedge fund manager for the Bayou Hedge Fund Group, which he founded in 1996.

Early life and education[edit]

Israel attended Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York.[1] He does not have a college degree.[2]


In 1996 Israel founded the Bayou Hedge Fund Group, which raised $450 million from its investors and for which Israel was CEO. Bayou and Israel misappropriated these funds for personal use, running what would later be revealed as a Ponzi scheme. After poor returns in 1998, the firm founded a dummy accounting firm, which they hired to audit themselves in order to keep up appearances to investors.[3]

In 2005, Bayou was indicted. On September 29, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed charges against Bayou, Israel, and Bayou CFO Daniel Marino.[4] The next year, the hedge fund filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection.[5]

On April 14, 2008, Israel was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $300 million after pleading guilty to defrauding investors in his now-bankrupt firm.[6]

Manhunt and arrest[edit]

His 2006 GMC Envoy was found abandoned on the Bear Mountain Bridge on June 10, 2008 with the following written in dust on the hood, "Suicide is Painless," the title of the theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H. Police suspected that this was an attempt by Israel to fake his own death in order to avoid prison.[7] Israel's girlfriend, Debra Ryan, was arrested later that same month for aiding and abetting his escape, 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.[8] The pair were featured on America's Most Wanted.[9]

Israel surrendered to federal authorities on July 2, 2008. NBC aired a Dateline segment about him on September 5, 2008.[10]

Sentenced in April 2008 to 20 years in federal prison, Israel failed to report to prison as ordered on June 9, 2008. Under intense questioning, his girlfriend, Debra Ryan, admitted to helping him escape. He was eventually tracked down to a campground in Granville, Massachusetts, and surrendered to authorities on July 2, 2008. As a consequence, he was further sentenced on July 15, 2009, to an additional two years in prison while his girlfriend was sentenced to three years' probation. Israel is serving his sentence at Federal Correctional Institution, Butner Low in Butner, North Carolina; his earliest possible release date is September 12, 2027.[citation needed]

Israel is the subject of the "Suicide is Painless" episode of American Greed on CNBC, first broadcast on February 3, 2010.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nelson D. Schwartz; Abha Bhattarai (14 June 2008). "The Search for a Missing Trader Goes Global". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  2. ^ Murphy, Dennis (5 October 2008). "Mystery of the missing millionaire". NBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2016. But Sam the 3rd had never actually graduated from college.
  3. ^ Cantrell, Amanda (September 29, 2005). "Bayou founder, CFO plead guilty to fraud". CNN/Money.
  4. ^ "CFTC Press Release 5-21-05". Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  5. ^ Brickley, Peg. "Bayou Investors Who Got Out Early Lose Their Bid for Pretrial Victory". Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ "Bayous Israel Gets 20-Year Term for Hedge Fund Fraud". Bloomberg.
  7. ^ Suicide note left on swindler's car on bridge, New York Post, 10 June 2008.
  8. ^ Fugitive Fund Manager’s Girlfriend Is Charged, The New York Times, 20 June 2008.
  9. ^ Samuel Israel - Fugitive, America's Most Wanted
  10. ^ Hedge-fund swindler Israel surrenders, Reuters
  11. ^ "1 / 17 Suicide is Painless: The Fall of Samuel Israel III". CNBC. CNBC. Retrieved 17 August 2016.

External links[edit]