Judge rules Armonk swindler can enter guilty plea
Convicted Hudson Valley stock swindler Samuel Israel III returned to court Friday for the fifth time to be charged with attempting to evade a 20-year prison sentence.
A judge had previously rejected Israel's guilty plea because the Armonk hedge fund manager had an addiction to painkillers. After months of physical and psychological evaluations, prison doctors say Israel is now fit to make a plea with a sound mind.
Israel was convicted of scamming hedge fund investors out of $500,000. Prosecutors say he tried to escape prison by abandoning his SUV on the Bear Mountain Bridge last June to make it look like a suicide.
Israel's girlfriend, Debra Ryan, pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to aiding her boyfriend in faking his suicide. Ryan is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, but a plea deal could reduce it to four to 10 months in prison.
The plea came after federal prosecutors reported having witness testimony and physical evidence proving that Ryan helped Israel in his plot. Investigators say Ryan furnished a fake suicide note and told them she did not know of Israel's whereabouts.
Israel is due back in court March 16.
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