Indiana money manager who tried to fake death pleads guilty to securities fraud charges

By Ken Kusmer, AP
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Man who tried to fake death pleads guilty to fraud

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — An Indiana money manager who once led a high-flying lifestyle pleaded guilty to five securities fraud counts on Wednesday, nearly two years after he tried to fake his death in a Florida plane crash to escape the crush of financial and personal problems.

Marcus Schrenker, 39, admitted the charges in a plea agreement under which he agreed to a 10-year prison sentence and prosecutors dropped four other charges. He also agreed to pay more than $600,000 in restitution. Prosecutors say he bilked friends, family members and other investors of more than $1 million.

He will remain in jail until his Oct. 7 sentencing, when Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation is expected to rule whether Schrenker serves the sentence at the same time as a federal sentence or afterward.

Schrenker, shackled at his wrists and ankles and wearing an orange jail T-shirt emblazoned with “Inmate 453″ on its back in large black letters, told Nation he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has taken medication for it since 1992.

His attorney, P. Chadwick Hill, said afterward that Schrenker didn’t blame the disorder for his actions.

“He does believe his bipolar disorder did contribute to the state of mind. He is not saying his bipolar disorder caused him to do what he has admitted to doing, but he was self-medicating and that, as most know, that is a slippery slope downward,” Hill said.

Schrenker, a one-time amateur daredevil pilot, self-medicated with alcohol and painkillers, Hill said.

The former money manager was arrested at a Florida campground in January 2009, two days after officials say he put his plane on autopilot and bailed out over Alabama. The plane crashed about 200 miles away in Florida, as Schrenker sped off on a motorcycle he had stashed in a storage shed. U.S. marshals caught up with him at a campground.

Schrenker was sentenced last year to more than four years in federal prison for charges he pleaded guilty to stemming from the plane crash. He was ordered to pay more than $900,000 restitution in that case.

Court-appointed receivers have said they’ve tallied more than $20 million in claims against Schrenker, while the liquidation of his holdings have brought in less than $600,000.

Schrenker’s estranged wife, Michelle, with whom he once shared a luxury home in an affluent lakeside subdivision dubbed “Cocktail Cove” for the easygoing lifestyle there, sat a few feet behind him in the courtroom but did not show any emotion. She did not speak to reporters afterward.

Michelle Schrenker was due to appear Wednesday night on the Investigation Discovery channel television series, “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?” She filed for divorce in late 2008.

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