Eddie Antar, well-known in the Greater New York area as “Crazy Eddie,” the electronics discounter, tried to commit suicide in the hospital ward of Ayalon Prison, in Ramla.
Antar has been awaiting a court hearing on a U.S. government request to extradite him to the United States in order to stand trial for fraud.
In 1990, a U.S. court ordered him to return $52 million he had allegedly obtained by defrauding customers and illegally transferred to Bank Leumi in Israel. Instead of handing over the cash, he fled to Israel, where he changed his identity and address several times.
Antar was declared to be a fugitive from justice by the U.S. authorities. Interpol, the international police information network, asked the Israeli police to help search for him. He was finally tracked down last June in Yavneh, where he was living under the false identity of David Cohen of Brazil, and in possession of a number of false passports and documents.
In August, Israeli Justice Minister David Libai recommended that Antar be extradited to the United States.
Antar, who is 45 or 46 years old, was already in the prison’s hospital ward. His wife, Debbie, and his lawyers were seeking his release on bail on the grounds that prison was seriously affecting his physical and mental health.
On Friday morning, Antar was found unconscious in his hospital bed, having swallowed a bottle of pills. He was transferred to the nearby Assaf Harofeh government hospital.
His lawyers appealed to the Jerusalem District Court to have him released home on bail, with the head of a local security company offering to guarantee that he would not skip bail.
But Judge Vardimus Zailer rejected the request and instead appointed a psychiatrist to examine him, giving him a week to determine whether Antar’s detention really imperils his life.