NEW YORK – The hedge fund cheat who faked his death before going on the lam told a Manhattan judge Thursday that he tried to kill himself with a drug overdose before he surrendered in Massachusetts.
The unsympathetic judge replied that Samuel Israel III, who scammed nearly half a billion dollars from investors, must forfeit his $500,000 bail.
Israel went on the run June 9, when he was supposed to report for a 20-year prison sentence. He abandoned his SUV on a bridge north of New York City with the phrase "Suicide is Painless" scrawled in dust on the hood.
The massive manhunt ended Wednesday, when Israel rode a scooter to surrender at a Massachusetts police station.
He could face an extra 10 years if he is convicted of a new charge of failing to report to prison.
Israel told U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon that he had decided to commit suicide on Tuesday by swallowing morphine tablets and the painkiller fentanyl.
"I ate the balance of my fentanyl patches because I thought it was better to do myself in than to turn myself in," Israel said. "I woke up battered and bruised and I realized God didn't want me to do that and I turned myself in."
"Stand up Mr. Israel," McMahon sternly told the defendant, who had abruptly sat down while she was speaking. "If you can ride a motorcycle, Mr. Israel, you can stand up in my courtroom."
Israel got the 20-year sentence in April for conspiracy and fraud. McMahon refused to refer him to the prison medical facility to which he had been assigned before he fled.
"It was thrown in my face the last time," she said. "I'm now out of it."