| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 7 Former hedge fund manager Samuel
Israel, who faked his own suicide to avoid prison after running
a $450 million fraud, on Thursday failed to persuade a judge to
shorten his 22-year sentence or set him free because prison
officials are unable to treat his worsening health.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan said the
Bayou Group LLC founder's claim of inadequate care by the
Federal Bureau of Prisons, which led to an alleged "near death
experience," was not a legal basis to reduce his sentence, and
that even if it were, he waited too long to sue.
McMahon in 2008 had sentenced Israel to 20 years for fraud;
another judge later added two years for bail jumping.
"The driving consideration for the court in sentencing
defendant to 20 years in prison was that he was the mastermind
behind a $450 million Ponzi scheme," McMahon wrote.
"I may have taken Mr. Israel's medical needs into account
when I gave him as little as 240 months; I assuredly would never
have given him less, regardless of my perception of the quality
of the BOP medical care," she added.
Shane Landry, a lawyer for Israel, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Israel, 55, pleaded guilty in 2005 to defrauding Bayou
investors. He sparked a manhunt in June 2008 when his GMC Envoy
was found on Bear Mountain Bridge north of New York City, with
the words "suicide is painless" scrawled in dust on the hood.
He surrendered the following month, and is now housed in the
same Butner, North Carolina, complex as Bernard Madoff.
In seeking a shorter sentence, Israel claimed he nearly died
last year because prison officials had waited until after he had
fallen, hit his head and lost consciousness to replace a battery
for his pacemaker.
Israel also claimed to have been denied treatment for
chronic pain linked to a degenerative spinal condition.
McMahon said if Israel wants to challenge his medical care
in court, he should do so in North Carolina.
Israel is not eligible for release until Sept. 12, 2027.
The case is U.S. v. Israel, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 05-cr-01039.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie