Ind. money manager who tried to fake own death after stealing from investors to be sentenced

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Money manager who crashed plane to be sentenced

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — An Indiana money manager who admitted stealing investors’ money to finance his lavish lifestyle and to trying to fake his own death by parachuting out of an airplane and allowing it to crash was due in court Thursday to be sentenced.

Marcus Schrenker, 39, agreed to a 10-year prison term when he pleaded guilty last month to securities fraud.

Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation is expected to rule whether Schrenker should serve the sentence consecutively or concurrently with a four-year federal sentence stemming from the January 2009 plane crash.

Schrenker was an amateur daredevil pilot who used money he stole from investors to buy planes, luxury cars and a 10,000-square-foot home in an upscale suburban Indianapolis neighborhood nicknamed “Cocktail Cove,” where affluent boaters often socialized, prosecutors say.

They say Schrenker bilked nine clients, including a friend of 10 years and his own aunt, out of a total of about $1.5 million they thought they were investing in a foreign currency fund that didn’t really exist.

The scheme began to unravel when the economy declined and some investors wanted to stash their money in safer investments and take it out of Schrenker’s accounts, prosecutors say. His wife filed for divorce Dec. 30, 2008, a day before Indiana police seized computers and financial documents during a search of his home and office. Days earlier, he lost a $533,000 judgment to an insurance company.

Facing mounting legal problems, Schrenker put his small plane on autopilot in January 2009 and jumped out with a parachute to try to fake his own death. He said he pointed the plane toward the Gulf of Mexico, but the plane ran out of fuel and crashed in the Florida Panhandle.

Schrenker parachuted into Alabama and was found two days later at a Florida campground, bleeding of a self-inflicted wrist slash.

At his plea hearing last month, Schrenker told the judge 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.

Court-appointed receivers have said they’ve tallied more than $20 million in claims against Schrenker, while the liquidation of his holdings has brought in less than $600,000. That’s still short of the $630,000 Schrenker agreed to pay as part of a plea agreement filed Aug. 10.

Indiana authorities had the assets of Schrenker and his estranged wife, Michelle, placed in a court-controlled receivership.

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