Ex-hedge fund manager Israel ordered back to NY

2/07/2008 - 21:27

By Scott Malone

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A federal judge ordered former hedge fund manager Samuel Israel III back to New York to face new charges after he surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, ending a nationwide manhunt triggered after he faked his own death to avoid a 20-year prison sentence.

Wearing a blue T-shirt and athletic shorts, Israel, 48, asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor to send him to Devens federal prison in Ayer, Massachusetts, where he was due to start the prison sentence.

"I have significant medical issues," said Israel, who was convicted for the most brazen and longest-running fraud in the $2 trillion hedge fund industry. "I do require daily medical attention."

Israel, who appeared without a lawyer, told the judge that he would be safer in the low-security part of the Devens facility.

"I am not a danger to the community. I have not done anything violent," Israel said. "If I was going to flee again, I would not have turned myself in."

The judge rejected the former fugitive's plea, telling him, "You could be at Devens right now if you wanted to be."

Israel will face charges in New York related to his failure to show up for his prison term.

Israel told authorities he had taken medications including morphine the night before, "perhaps in an effort to harm himself," and would be held in a facility in New York where he could get medical attention, said the prosecutor.

Israel, who was hiding out in a mobile home, showed up at the Southwick police station on a Yamaha scooter after his mother had convinced him to turn himself in, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

His mother also tipped off U.S. Marshals that her son was ready to end the chase.

"Sam Israel was in contact with his mother right before he came in, and she called us to let us know," said Dave Turner, a Marshals spokesman. "He gave up because of the intense pressure of the manhunt."

Southwick is a small town in the Pioneer Valley near the Connecticut border, about 100 miles southwest of Boston.

It is not far from where Israel was to report to federal prison on June 9 the day his GMC Envoy was found parked on a bridge above the Hudson River, its engine idling and the words "suicide is painless" etched in dust on its hood.

(Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston, Editing by Braden Reddall/Jeffrey Benkoe)

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