The girlfriend of hedge fund swindler Samuel Israel was sentenced to three years of probation, including four months of house arrest, on Tuesday for helping him stage suicide to avoid going to prison.

Debra Ryan, of Armonk, New York, could have been ordered to spend up to 10 years in prison, after pleading guilty in February to aiding and abetting hedge fund manager Samuel Israel's efforts to elude authorities.

She admitted helping Israel carry out his escape last June as well as misleading law enforcement officers investigating his disappearance. Israel later turned himself in and is now in prison, serving a 20-year sentence for cheating Bayou hedge fund group investors out of about $450 million.

This has been a horrible ordeal for Ms. Ryan and she is glad it is finally behind her, her attorney, Richard Strassberg, said in a statement.

Ryan's sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains, New York.

The judge also instructed Ryan to have no contact with Israel, said Herbert Hadad, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York.

The judge in January had barred Ryan from having any contact with Israel because she had been charged with mailing him a magazine and $300 cash in prison.

Israel's disappearance last year sparked an intense manhunt. After failing to arrive at a Massachusetts prison, his car was found abandoned on a New York bridge with the words suicide is painless etched in dust on the hood.

When no body was found, police quickly labeled him a fugitive and he surrendered a month later.

Israel pleaded guilty to bail jumping in March, and faces up to 10 more years in prison on that charge. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15 in White Plains.

(Reporting by Martha Graybow; Editing by Richard Chang and Tim Dobbyn)