[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/12/art.samisrael.jpg caption="Samuel Israel arrives at the U.S. Courthouse in New York, April 14, 2008. He has been missing since Monday and is suspected of faking a suicide."]
Editor's Note: Watch Randi’s full report on this tonight at 10p.
Today we are hot on the trail of a great mystery...and would love your help in trying to solve it.
I’m working on a story on Samuel Israel, the former hedge fund manager from New York convicted of defrauding investors of more than $400 million dollars and sentenced to 20 years.
He’s been out on bond for a couple of years and coopering with prosecutors, but instead of reporting to prison on Monday as planned, he disappeared.
Question now is, where is he?
Here’s what you need to know: his car was found on the Bear Mountain Bridge which spans the Hudson River in New York. On the hood, scrawled in dust, was a note that read “Suicide is Painless.”
If any of you are fans of the show “MASH” you probably know that is the name of the theme song. In the movie, that song played during a faked suicide.
Inside Israel’s GMC Envoy were keys, and some prescription medicine, but there are those who doubt Israel took his life and jumped the 150 feet or so into the Hudson.
Police have been searching the river for days. No body.
The U.S. Attorney, apparently unconvinced Israel committed suicide, has issued a warrant for his arrest.
Here’s what doesn’t sit right with a lot of folks. He apparently told his live-in girlfriend Monday morning when he left, “I’m driving to prison.”
First of all, why was he driving himself to prison? What was he going to do with his car when he got there?
Also, there are cameras on the bridge but state police say the video is inconclusive. It doesn’t indicate clearly if anyone jumped or not. The video system is reportedly long range and not sophisticated enough to even determine if something is a car or a truck.
Israel apparently had a bad back and tried to get a lesser sentence after alerting the judge to his nine previous back surgeries. It didn’t work. But friends say he was afraid of going to prison and saw it as a death sentence.
So maybe he did jump….
A lawyer who represents 20 clients, who lost a collective $25 million in the fraud scheme, told us, “there’s no way he jumped off that bridge, that he’s too much of a narcissist.”
What do you think?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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