Friday, February 27, 2009

NY judge finds hedge-fund swindler competent

A federal judge in New York says a hedge-fund cheat is well enough to stand trial _ or plead guilty _ for skipping out on prison.

Judge Kenneth Karas, relying on a medical report from the Bureau of Prisons, said Friday there's no reason to think that 49-year-old Samuel Israel "is suffering from mental disease."

Israel's lawyer, Barry Bohrer, says Israel may plead guilty, but no commitment has been made.

Israel, of Armonk, went on the lam in June instead of surrendering for a 20-year prison sentence for bilking investors in the Stamford, Conn.-based Bayou funds. Israel faked his suicide and absconded for nearly a month before surrendering in Massachusetts.

Israel tried to plead guilty last year, but Karas ordered a medical evaluation instead.