The manhunt is on for the disgraced hedge fund manager whom authorities believe faked his own suicide to avoid a 20-year prison sentence. Those involved in the investigation do not believe Sam Israel III has fled the country and they are focusing on sealing his possible exit routes at airports and border crossings. Meanwhile, the search circle around his home and Bear Mountain Bridge, where he allegedly staged his suicide, is widening.
A man described as a possible willing accomplice to Israel was interviewed extensively yesterday and sources say that has eliminated any doubts that authorities had about him being on the run. Law enforcement then made the decision to stop wasting energy waiting for the Hudson River to yield a body, and instead they've devoted US Marshals, New York State Police, and other officers to the manhunt, sources say.
Earlier this week, on the day Israel was supposed to report to federal prison, authorities located his abandoned car near Bear Mountain Bridge. On the hood of his car, written in dust was the message "Suicide is Painless," the theme of the movie and TV series M.A.S.H. However Israel was not seen jumping, and no body has been found.
Israel had pleaded guilty to defrauding his hedge fund investors of $400 million in a Ponzi like scheme, where he used new money to create the appearance of profits for earlier investors. Despite his plea, and cooperation with authorities, and requests for leniency by his attorneys, a federal judge slapped Israel with a stiff sentence and stung him with harsh words.
US District Judge Colleen McMahon said to Israel at his sentencing, "You were, in every meaning of the sense, a career criminal. You ruined lives. Financial fraud, white-collar crimes are every bit as heinous as every other type of crime and they will be punished severely."
Lawyers for Israel had sought leniency, noting he's had numerous back operations and is addicted to painkillers. The judge had no compassion in her voice when she said, "He suffered from these ailments while he did the crime. He can deal with them while he does the time."