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Suicide note deepens Bayou probe
Paper says hedge fund's CFO wrote that he and partners fleeced investors; that exec is still alive.
August 29, 2005: 8:53 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Following reports that hundreds of millions of dollars are missing at a Connecticut hedge fund firm, law enforcement officials may have secured a key piece of evidence from a suicide note left by the company's chief financial officer, a news report said Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Daniel Marino, a partner at the Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund Bayou Management LLC, drafted a suicide note in which he confessed to swindling investors from 1998 to the present day.

The note, discovered by a Seattle money manager visiting the firm's offices on August 16, linked Marino as well as Bayou founder Samuel Israel III and a former partner James Marquez to the company's recent financial woes.

After receiving a 911 call from the money manager, police tracked down Marino, who was then admitted for a psychiatric evaluation, according to the Journal.

The letter has become a key piece of evidence for Connecticut investigators looking at potential fraud at the firm. State banking authorities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's office in Connecticut are all looking into the matter.

Connecticut police said the letter also indicated that Israel and Marino had been involved in altercations in the past. In the note, Marino wrote that Israel had once held a gun to his chest.

Marino and the other partners implicated in the scandal and the money manager who discovered the note did not return phone calls over the weekend.

Connecticut law enforcement officials reported last week that the fraud could involve hundreds of millions of dollars.

Over the past 18 months, Bayou's assets dwindled from more than $500 million. Trading activity by the firm has also dropped off.

In July, the firm announced that it was closing its operations. In August, investors received a letter from Israel stating that the firm would return their investments by the end of the month. Promised 90 percent back by mid-August, investors were unable to retrieve their money from two of Bayou's funds and received no response to calls to the firm, prompting a state and federal investigation into Bayou Securities.

The Journal also reported that Bayou may have had connections with its auditing firm, Richmond-Fairfield Associates, as Marino filed registration papers for the auditing firm in October of 2000. In 2002, Bayou claimed that Grant Thornton oversaw its books. The paper reported it was unable to contact anyone employed at Richmond-Fairfield and that a spokesperson at Grant Thornton said it had not audited Bayou since the late 1990s.


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