Filed under: con artists

Fugitive Fund Manager A-hole Surrenders

(Note: During my sort-of hiatus I realized one BIG reason why I was just about sick of doing this crime-blogging thing: I have been editing myself way too closely. I don’t mean correcting typos, bad grammar, whatever — I mean not saying what I think. Being blunt, if called for. Letting my quirks show, as I often do here. Well, I’m trying to change that. Some long-time readers may not like the result, and I apologize to you/them in advance. But in order to keep crime-blogging, and in order to enjoy it, I have to quit worrying so much about how I express myself. This isn’t me trying to do anything but say what I’m thinking; what’s really going on in my head in response to some of the stories covered in this blog. So there you go. You’ve been warned.)

The hedge fund manager dickhead who tried to fake his suicide in order to run off and spend his ill-gotten gains in peace has been arrested in Massachusetts. Samuel Israel III was on the phone with his mommy when he sauntered into a police station in Southwick, Mass and surrendered to the authorities.

Israel disappeared on June 9. He was on his way to begin serving a 20 year sentence, and it wasn’t like the guy was headed to some anal-rape fest inside some brutal Fed lockup; he was headed to a Federal Medical Center. Israel has some vicious issues with back pain and has been addicted to painkillers; he was slated to receive another in a series of operations intended to alleviate that pain when he vanished.

On the 9th, authorities found Israel’s abandoned car on a bridge over the Hudson River. Someone had written “suicide is painless” in the dust on the hood and some of Israel’s personal effects were inside the vehicle.

Israel’s bloated remains didn’t show up down the Hudson anywhere, so investigators realized he must be off somewhere thumbing his nose at them and, for all they knew, watching M*A*S*H marathons at his leisure.

Prior to Israel’s arrest on Wednesday, the investigation into his disappearance turned up evidence that his girlfriend, Debra Ryan, had helped him go on the run. Ryan was arrested two weeks ago. She has been charged with aiding and abetting.

It probably was no surprise to anyone investigating the case that Israel disappeared. In late August, 2005, feds showed up at the offices of Israel’s company, Bayou Securities LLC, only to find out that he and others they sought were in the wind. In one sense, you couldn’t blame the guy for trying to rabbit back then — there’s no succinct way to explain how $500,000,000 of your investors’ funds just went poof.

There was some precedent for Israel’s faked suicide, too. In 2005 the real suicide of Bayou’s CFO, Daniel Marino, was accompanied by a note stating that Israel and his partner had “defrauded all these investors” since at least 1998. Samuel Israel III — likely the classic corporate psychopath — simply cobbled together a story from his own history to try and get away.

There is no blood in a story like this, but it has its own kind of horror. And it would be one thing if Israel were the only one of his kind, but as so many stories of massive fraud from the last 15 years or so demonstrate, he is not.

At least he’s back where he belongs. Sam Israel has 20 years to stew on that and try and figure out where it all went wrong. But he won’t.

Seattle John Doe: Who the Hell is this Guy?

UPDATE, 3/24/08:

John Doe has been identified. He is Scott Andrew Shain, age 53. According to Seattle TV station KING 5, Shain was identified by his parents after they saw his photo on the FBI’s website. Thanks to commenter “WOW” for the update and the link. Further updates may follow.


The balding, blue-eyed man is medium height, weighs about 170. His age is a mystery. He could be 40, he could be in his early 50s. In every photo he wears the same expression, and it’s hard to dismiss the impression that he’s smirking. He is holding onto a secret, something he’ll never willingly tell another. He currently sits inside the SeaTac Detention Center in Seattle, Washington, facing a number of charges — charges that include aggravated identity theft.

No one knows who he is. To that end, he’s even tried to obliterate his own fingerprints.

The FBI started looking into John Doe more than 5 months ago. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police contacted the FBI, curious about Seattle resident Dwayne Spill. Spill had tried to get birth certificates from British Columbia and from Saskatchewan.

The Feds first talked to the man in late 2007. He called himself Robert Lowe, but the nameplate on his residence read “D. A. Spill.”

The investigation revealed more names. Photographs from Washington State driver’s licenses tied the names together. All the licenses bore photos of the same ageless, smirking man. In some he wore wigs, others he wore glasses. But his face was unmistakable. Beside that face were names like:

  • William Gregg;
  • a variation on Robert Lowe, spelling the last name “Loew”;
  • William Everett Gee;
  • Blake Matthew Desmond;
  • Bernard O’Daly;

Federal agents believe John Doe has used at least 32 identities over the years.

An investigator with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, Joseph Velling, spoke to the Seattle Times about Doe. The Feds may know who the man is now, but they aren’t sure. “He is a little bit of a savant, to tell you the truth,” said Velling. He continued, “It’s hard to remember anything quite like this.”

Doe was clever. In Massachusetts he was Bernard O’Daly (only one man with this name from Massachusetts shows up on the Social Security Death Index — he died in April, 1979). When he moved west, he had that name legally changed to Blake Matthew Desmond.

Special Agent Velling told the Times that Doe has lived in Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. Doe has a criminal record as well — under some of his aliases.

His most recent arrest wasn’t Doe’s first encounter with Federal agents. Doe was interviewed 15 years ago by the Secret Service after he allegedly threatened Bill Clinton. They confiscated a homemade flamethrower from the man at the time.

Velling also indicated that Doe may have had some involvement in what he called a “sort of eBay or Craigslist for criminals.”

Though Doe is facing charges of mail fraud and identity theft, investigators haven’t found much evidence of the mystery man using his various identities to commit any other crimes. He may be hiding from something, he may simply be paranoid.

Doe hasn’t helped anyone. He simply sits in jail, no doubt with the same mysterious half-smile on his face much of the time, waiting for his next court date.