updated 1/14/2009 3:48:39 PM ET 2009-01-14T20:48:39

The girlfriend of hedge fund swindler Samuel Israel III, already accused of helping him skip out on a prison sentence, tried to send him $300 in jail, officials said Wednesday.

The cash was "secreted in the pages of a magazine" mailed to Israel last month at the Westchester County jail, county police spokesman Kieran O'Leary said. He did not know the name of the magazine.

The money was discovered during routine screening and did not reach Israel, O'Leary added. Prisoners are not permitted to receive cash.

The magazine was traced to the girlfriend, 45-year-old Debra Ryan of Armonk, and she was arrested on Friday, O'Leary said. She is due in local court later this month.

The arrest was first disclosed in federal court after Ryan pleaded not guilty to the original charge, that she helped Israel go on the lam rather than begin his 20-year prison sentence last June.

Israel surrendered a month later and was recently transferred to a federal medical prison in Massachusetts for physical and psychological tests ordered by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas. The judge is unsure that Israel, who has been addicted to painkillers, is competent to plead guilty to the charge of failing to report to prison.

Ryan's lawyer, Richard Strassberg, declined comment on the contraband charge, which is a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year sentence upon conviction. She could face up to 10 years on the original charge.

'No contact of any kind'
The judge warned Ryan to have "no contact of any kind" with Israel in the future and added that to the conditions of her $75,000 bail.

"Ms. Ryan, please don't tempt fate," he added.

Although Ryan pleaded not guilty to the charge of aiding and abetting Israel's failure to report to prison, negotiations toward a plea bargain are under way. Prosecutor Nicholas McQuade told the judge lawyers were in talks "likely to result in a disposition of the case."

The judge set Feb. 10 for the next court session.

Ryan's original arrest came in June, 10 days after Israel faked his suicide and took off on the day he was supposed to begin the sentence he received for swindling investors in his Bayou hedge funds. Prosecutors said then that she admitted helping Israel pack up the RV that he took off in.

Ryan's statement was the first big break announced in the case after Israel's SUV was found abandoned on a Hudson River bridge with the ominous words "Suicide is Painless" etched in dust on the hood.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments