DealZone

Sam Israel’s wooded hideout

July 2, 2008

Prospect MountainGRANVILLE, Mass. — Hedge fund managers are known for having a taste for the world’s glamorous vacation spots. But for his time on the lam, fugitive and one-time millionaire Samuel Israel hid out in a place that typically caters to people of more modest means – a campground in rural Granville, Massachusetts, according to some of the camp’s current guests.

“It’s different, that’s for sure,” said Ken Cudworth, 37, as he moved his family into a site at the campground. Cudworth had been waiting for an opening at the wooded camp for a few days and got a call on Wednesday morning that one had opened up – the site that Israel, who was convicted of a scheme that defrauded investors of $450 million, vacated when he turned himself in at a local police station.

Cudworth“I’ll be digging some holes to see if he left anything,” Cudworth said.

Jim Cooley, 63, also staying at the camp, said he’d seen a man who matched Israel’s description pull out of the site on a motorscooter. That was the vehicle Israel rode to Southwick police station where he turned himself in after a four-week nationwide manhunt for the person who committed the longest-running fraud in the $2 trillion Campground Jailhedge-fund industry.

None of the campground visitors interviewed had talked with Israel during his stay or realized who he was prior to news of his surrender. But Cooley had a theory as to why Israel turned himself in.

“I think he got bored here and said, ‘Heck, they’re never going to find me here. I’m going to turn myself in,’” Cooley said.

As he rode out Prospect Mountain camp ground for the last time, Israel would have passed the children’s play area, where among the climbing toys is a pen with a sign that reads “Campground Jail.”

(Photos by Brian Snyder)

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