Fugitive’s Girlfriend Admits Aiding His Escape

Samuel Israel, founder of the Bayou Group
Samuel Israel, founder of the Bayou Group

Debra Ryan, the girlfriend of Samuel Israel III, convicted in a $400 million fraud involving the collapse of the hedge fund firm Bayou Group, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to aiding his escape.

Mr. Israel, 49, is accused of faking a suicide by abandoning his car on an upstate New York bridge with the words “suicide is painless” written on the windshield on the day he was to begin a 20-year sentence. He pleaded guilty in 2005 to hiding $400 million in losses at Bayou, a defunct firm based in Connecticut.

“The night before his surrender, Sam woke me up and begged me to help” him escape, Ms. Ryan told Kenneth Karas, United States District judge in White Plains. “I knew that was wrong.”

Ms. Ryan, 45, of Armonk, N.Y., was arrested on June 19 and charged with aiding and abetting Mr. Israel. She said that she had met him at an auto repair shop in Bedford, N.Y., on June 7 to help him attach a scooter to a lift on the back of a recreational vehicle, prosecutors said.

She also helped him pack the RV with the belongings and gave the police a suicide note written by Mr. Israel, according to court papers.

A week later, the police ruled out a suicide. Mr. Israel surrendered in Massachusetts in July. He forfeited his $500,000 bail and faces up to 10 additional years in prison.

Judge Karas said that in the plea agreement between the government and Ms. Ryan, prosecutors were recommending a sentence of 4 to 10 months. The judge set her sentencing date for May 22.

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