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Suicide?: Disgraced Hedge Fund Trader Samuel Israel III Missing

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A car abandoned on a bridge with the phrase "Suicide is Painless" scrawled in the dust on its hood is registered to a hedge-fund swindler who was supposed to report to federal prison, state police said Tuesday.

Investigator Bruce Cuccia said suicide has not been established, no body has been found and no one saw anyone jump. The FBI has joined the investigation and a search is under way, he said.

The car, a 2006 GMC Envoy, was registered to Samuel Israel III of Armonk, Cuccia said. It was found on Monday on the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River, near West Point and about 40 miles north of New York City.

On its hood, etched into the dust and pollen, were the words "Suicide is Painless," the name of the theme of the classic "MASH" television show. The song was sung during the original movie.

No other note was found, Cuccia said.

Investigator Tim Miller said police have not been able to reach Israel. No home telephone number was listed for him.

The U.S. attorney's office, which prosecuted Israel, had no comment, said spokesman Herb Hadad. A call to the FBI was not immediately returned.

Israel, 48, was sentenced in April to 20 years in federal prison for illegally inducing investors to put more than $450 million into now-collapsed Bayou hedge funds. He was also ordered to pay back $300 million to his victims.

Judge Colleen McMahon called him the mastermind of the scheme and said the prison term was meant to show that "people who commit crimes while wearing a tie do not get a break."

She set Monday as the deadline for Israel to surrender. Cuccia said he had been expected at 2 p.m. at the federal prison in Ayer, Mass.

State police aircraft and boats from the Westchester and Rockland county police searched the Hudson on Monday and the boats resumed the search Tuesday morning, Cuccia said.