Remember Samuel Israel III? For those with short memories, SI3 is a former hedge fund manager who faked his own death in June 2008 with the help of his girlfriend, Debra Ryan, who later wrote an article explaining her actions by noting that she and Israel had “a blazing sex life” that was hard to walk away from (Ryan shared colorful anecdotes that included all the times Israel would “[jokingly] sneak up on her, once while wearing sunglasses on his penis”). For Israel’s part, he had pretended to kill himself, incorporating a line from M*A*S*H into his fake suicide note, in an attempt to avoid the prison stay that was coming his way, on account of having taken Bayou Group investors for more than $450 million. At the time, he became something of a minor celebrity, whose business card, prominently featuring an egret, was auctioned off on eBay but since ultimately being sentenced to twenty years behind bars we’d heard nary a peep from the guy. Luckily, Andrew Ross Sorkin recently flew down to Butner, North Carolina for a little chat and it’s a good thing he did because Israel had a lot he wanted to get off his chest.

After offering ARS an “orange Life Saver,” discussing his own version of a playoffs beard (“Mr. Israel…was wearing a tan prison uniform with his hair grown out, a mass of silver and brown curls sprouting from the sides of his bald head. ‘I’m never going to cut it until I get out,’ he exclaimed”), and talking Ponzi schemes, SI3 got down to the real matter at hand.

About halfway through, the interview turned bizarre when Mr. Israel, on the verge of crying, announced: “I took a man’s life. I shot him twice.” I asked for more details. The story is recounted in “Octopus,” but the author, Mr. Lawson, doesn’t appear to believe it. In the supposed slaying, Mr. Israel describes himself defending a known con man, Robert Booth Nichols, who claimed to have once worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and has since died. Mr. Nichols was undertaking a secret trade at a German bank and was ambushed outside by a cockeyed “Middle Eastern guy.” Mr. Israel says he shot the ambusher in the hip and then in the head. He looked at me, shaking, and said, “I’ve seen someone with their head blown off maybe two feet back — as close as I am to you.” Mr. Israel recognized my skepticism. When I asked him what happened to the body, he said, “Bob made a couple of calls.” Again, I looked at him quizzically. “These people can do anything. They can get rid of a body,” he said. “Come on,” he added, looking at me as if I didn’t understand. “They can kill presidents.”

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. “The J.F.K. thing,” he said. He went on to tell me that he had videotapes of Kennedy’s assassination and that one was stolen by the F.B.I. “I know it makes me look like a crackpot,” he said. “But I know it’s real. Look into my eyes — I don’t care if people think I’m crazy.”


A Con Man Who Lives Between Truth And Fiction [Dealbook]

36 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (36)

  1. Posted by Missionary4Ever | June 26, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    What is a "blazing sex life"?

    – B. Dougan

  2. Posted by guest | June 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    You want a toe? I'll get you a toe.

    –Guy who knows 30 other people were thinking the same thing and beat them all to it

  3. Posted by Bandersnatch | June 26, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    I have to return some videotapes
    F.B.I. Archivist

  4. Posted by Mexi_Cant | June 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    These people you speak of…can they help me make a profit?

    -Sergio P. Ermotti

  5. Posted by ILoveLamp | June 26, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    ARS: "What are you talking about? Whadaya hear about that thing?"
    SI3: "Oh, yeah, that JFK thing"
    ARS: "You mean the first thing, or the other thing?"
    SI3: "What are you talkin'? The THING. Bob called those guys, over at that place. They took care of it."
    ARS: "You mean those guys, from the place, like that time? That thing?"
    SI3: "No, you dope. The other guys, from the other place. Do I have to draw you a freakin' picture?"
    ARS: "Ohhhhh! That thing!"
    SI3: "Right, and so he's gone and we couldn't do nothin' about it."

  6. Posted by Mel Gibson | June 26, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    fuckin Israel…

  7. Posted by Melvin | June 26, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Go sell crazy someplace else. We're all stocked up here.

    -M. Udall

  8. Posted by Texashedge | June 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    "For Israel’s part, he had pretended to kill himself, incorporating a line from M*A*S*H into his fake suicide note"

    Suicide IS painless if you don't actually do it

  9. Posted by Guest | June 26, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Can you believe that face had a blazing sex life?

  10. Posted by The Dude | June 26, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    When can you have that toe to me by?

  11. Posted by Confused | June 26, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Anybody else having trouble visualizing sunglasses on a penis?

  12. Posted by ... | June 26, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Now those are some cocky sunglasses.

    – UBS Fashion Quant

  13. Posted by Guest | June 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Of course. No woman can resist the old "sunglasses on the junk" trick.

  14. Posted by Art Bitrage | June 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    SI3: Illegal? Deb, this is America! They're not gonna saw your hands off, all right? The worse they can do is put me for a couple of months into a while collar, minimum security resort! Shit, we should be so lucky! Did you know they have conjugal visits there?
    Debra Ryan: In… in these conjugal visits, you can have sex with women?
    SI3: Yep, I sure can.
    Debra Ryan: OK, I'll do it.

  15. Posted by B. Favre | June 26, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    So THAT's where I screwed up. Dammit.

  16. Posted by Walter Sobchak | June 26, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    well, that's like, your opinion, man

  17. Posted by Guest | June 26, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    You've never seen ARS wearing sunglasses?

  18. Posted by R. Ryan | June 26, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    I want a toe.

  19. Posted by Ron Mexico | June 26, 2012 at 3:44 PM


  20. Posted by R. Ryan | June 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    i want a toe

  21. Posted by Carl Hungus | June 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    You can imagine what happens from here. He fixes the cable?

  22. Posted by mrs. gupta | June 26, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    dude looks like a bloated charlie sheen

  23. Posted by inlovewithpmco | June 26, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    I thought it was Keith Hernandez with that JFK thing?

  24. Posted by The Chairman | June 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Egrets, I've had a few, but then again to few too mention

  25. Posted by Walter Sobchak | June 26, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Don't be fatuous, Carl.

  26. Posted by Guesticle | June 26, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Not intended to be funny – – I worked for that guy for a bit, and he is fucking crazier than he sounds.

  27. Posted by Greed is Good | June 26, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    When my herpes flares, I too describe my sex life as blazing.

  28. Posted by unwanted guest | June 27, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Not possible.

    Ron Jeremy

  29. Posted by Feng Shui Master | June 27, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    These are just cocky sunglasses man…..

  30. Posted by Guest | June 27, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Stories or gtfo

  31. Posted by im_new_here | June 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Goddamit. Now I need a replacement for the phrase "as useless as sunglasses on a dick."

  32. Posted by Freddy Lavalais | September 19, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    If you could call any freelance function prostitution, Id say yes, but if youre contemplating of it inside a sexual way, Id say no. Theres no physical contact. What I think is funny is that if youre that hard up for your girlfriend, you could normally Google for some pics and established up a phony account for the make believe girlfriend.

  33. Posted by Jakob | September 28, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Shelley, it’s in Wolseley, Saskatchewan I think there is one in Dorothy, Alberta though. At least there was the last time I was out there. Getting hard to find those not to code’ payngroulds

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