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Marcus Schrenker
Born November 22, 1970 (1970-11-22) (age 39)
Charge(s) Securities fraud, deceiving the Coast Guard,[1] illegal destruction of an aircraft[1]
Status Captured, awaiting trial in Indiana, currently being held at the Hamilton County Jail.
Occupation Financial advisor
Spouse Michelle Schrenker
Children Three

Marcus Schrenker (born November 22, 1970)[2] is a financial manager known for attempting to fake his own death and the multi-state, three-day manhunt that followed.[3][4][5] Schrenker lived and worked in Fishers, Indiana.

Contents

Background

Schrenker was an investment advisor, managing pension funds worth millions of dollars. He owned two private airplanes and a $1.7 million home on Geist Reservoir near Fishers, Indiana.[6][7] On October 15, 2005, Schrenker purchased a 6,260-square-foot (582 m2) home in Acworth, Georgia, for $1.65 million. Schrenker and his family lived in the neighborhood of Governors Towne Club in Acworth, Georgia, until the fall of 2007, after which they moved back to their previous neighborhood in Indiana. He owned three financial companies: Heritage Wealth Management, Heritage Insurance Services and Icon Wealth Management.[5]

Schrenker is a graduate of Indiana University and married to Michelle Daley[8][9] in the mid-1990s, and they had three children together.[9]

Fraud charges

In January 2008, The Indiana Department of Insurance filed a complaint against Schrenker on behalf of seven investors who claim he neglected to inform them that they would face high fees if they switched annuities, which subsequently cost them roughly $250,000.[10][11] On December 31, 2008, Schrenker's Indiana state financial adviser's license expired and authorities from Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita's Securities Division raided his home in search of evidence of securities violations.[5][9] On January 6, 2009, Schrenker was charged in Hamilton County, Indiana with unlawful acts by a compensated adviser and unlawful transaction by an investment adviser, and his bail was set at $4 million.[5] On January 9, he lost $533,500 in a federal court ruling in Maryland against one of his companies.

In addition to Schrenker's mounting business problems, Schrenker's wife of 13 years, Michelle, filed for divorce on December 30, 2008.[10] The following day, she told the authorities searching their home that her husband had been having an affair.[12] A press release from her lawyers claims that she had no idea about Schrenker's financial dealings, and their split was solely a result of his infidelities.[13]

In all, at least eight lawsuits were filed against Schrenker in the ten years leading up to his arrest, including slander, interfering with a business relationship, and failing to pay a contractor who worked on one of his homes.[14] There is speculation that Schrenker's accumulated personal and business problems may have caused his attempt to fake his own death.[15][16]

Plane crash and manhunt

On January 10, Schrenker traveled to Harpersville, Alabama, in a pickup truck carrying a red Yamaha motorcycle with saddlebags containing money and supplies.[10][17] He returned to Indiana after placing the motorcycle in a storage facility, telling the owner he would return and retrieve the motorcycle the following Monday.[10]

On January 11, 2009, Schrenker departed in his single-engine Piper Meridian from an airfield in Anderson, Indiana, scheduled to fly to Destin, Florida.[18] Near Birmingham, Alabama, he made a distress call, telling air traffic controllers that his windshield had imploded and he was "bleeding profusely."[3][6] He then set the plane to autopilot and parachuted out. The plane flew on, crossing Alabama before ultimately crashing in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Military jets that had been dispatched to intercept Schrenker's plane discovered it in flight, with its door open and cockpit empty.[6] They followed the plane until it crashed just north of Milton, Florida at about 9:20pm.[6][19] The plane had flown 200 miles (320 km) on autopilot and crashed 50 to 75 yards from a residential area.[3][19] Upon inspecting the crash site, police discovered a United States atlas and a national campground directory, both of which had the Florida and Alabama sections torn out.[20]

After parachuting to the ground, Schrenker made his way to a private residence in Childersburg, Alabama, arriving around 2:30am on January 12.[5] Appearing wet from the knees down,[5][10] he told the resident he had been in a canoeing accident. He received a ride into town, where he made contact with the local police station. Not yet linking Schrenker to the crash, the police brought him to a hotel in Harpersville, where he checked in under a false name and paid for his room with cash.[5] When police returned later that morning, he had fled on foot into nearby woods.[3] Schrenker then traveled to the storage facility where he had earlier located his motorcycle,[17][21] and then rode the vehicle to a KOA Campground in Quincy, Florida.[20][22] Without offering his name, he told the owners of the grounds that he was traveling cross country with friends, using cash to purchase a one-night tent site, firewood, and a six pack of Bud Light Lime.[20] He was also given access to the campground's wireless internet.[20]

On January 12, Schrenker emailed neighbor and friend Tom Britt, stating the crash was "a misunderstanding" and that he had checked into the motel because he was "embarrassed and scared" of returning home.[21] He also said that he would likely "be gone" by the time Britt read the email.[23] The same day, a Hamilton County Superior Court judge froze the assets of both Schrenker and his estranged wife.[9]

Capture

At about 10pm on January 13, officials captured Schrenker in a pup tent at the Quincy campground.[19][24][25] The ground's owners, Troy and Caroline Hastings, grew suspicious when the man had failed to check out by 5pm.[20] Upon approaching Schrenker's site, Troy Hasting noticed a large red stain on the outer flap of his tent.[20] The couple were soon contacted by the local sheriff, who asked if anything unusual had happened recently at the camp. Mr. Hastings told the officer about the suspicious camper; shortly thereafter, authorities swarmed the campground.[20]

Investigators told the press that he had slashed his left wrist, had an additional self-inflicted wound near his elbow, and was barely conscious.[17][19] US Marshal Assistant Chief Deputy Frank Chiumento said that Schrenker "wasn’t able to speak very clearly. A lot of the words that he was speaking were unintelligible, but he mentioned 'die' at least two times as we were providing medical treatment to him."[19] He was in a "very incoherent state" and had lost massive amounts of blood by the time authorities first arrived, but paramedics were able to control his bleeding and he was Life-Flighted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.[19] Among the items found at the campground with him were knives, a laptop computer, toiletries, clothes and maps.[19]

Trials

Because Schrenker's crimes spanned a number of states, including one coastal state, and because the incident involved an aircraft, he may be prosecuted by the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as Indiana, Alabama, and Florida law enforcement.[5][19]

He is scheduled to go before a Florida federal judge in Pensacola on January 22, 2009,[1][26] where he faces two charges: "knowingly and willfully" causing the U.S. Coast Guard to attempt to save his life and property “when no help was needed,” and illegal destruction of an aircraft.[1] At the hearing on January 29, Schrenker's lawyer, Thomas Keith, claimed his client is mentally incompetent and requested to the judge that he undergo a mental evaluation.[27] Schrenker has been sentenced to four years by Roger Vinson.

On February 5, 2009, an Alabama circuit court judge granted a $12 million judgment against Schrenker for the 2002 sale of a defective airplane to a man in Dothan, Alabama.[28]

Indiana prosecutors hope to begin his trial in their state as early as April.[26]

On March 6, 2009, a letter Marcus Schrenker wrote to the Indiana Attorney General and Indiana Secretary of State was published by the news media. In the letter, Schrenker attempted to proclaim his innocence and unfreeze assets stated to belong to his wife.

On June 5, 2009 Marcus Schrenker pled guilty to trying to fake his own death in a plane crash last January. 38 year-old entered his plea in a Florida courtroom and admitted to intentionally crashing his small plane to try to end years of financial and legal problems. He had been ordered to pay investors hundreds of thousands of dollars and faced millions in judgements and other penalties related to an insurance company lawsuit. Schrenker faces up to 26-years in prison, $500,000 in fines, and at least $38,000 in reimbursement to the Coast Guard when he's sentenced at a later date.

On August 19, 2009, Marcus Schrenker was sentenced to four years for charges related to the crash.[29]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Bloomberg.com article: "Indiana Fund Manager Indicted for Faking His Death".
  2. ^ Court records show Schrenker's DOB to be 11/22/1970.
  3. ^ a b c d Indy.com article: "Fishers pilot vanishes over Alabama".
  4. ^ "Judge freezes assets of pilot whose plane crashed without him". CNN. 2009-01-13. http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/13/pilot.assets/index.html. Retrieved 2009-01-13.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h CNN article: "U.S. marshals: Pilot could face federal charges".
  6. ^ a b c d The Guardian article: "Businessman faked death by jumping from plane".
  7. ^ Chattanooga Times Free Press article: "Search on for Indiana pilot who jumped from plane".
  8. ^ PeopleFinders.com results show a "Michelle Daley Schrenker" living in all the same locations that Marcus Schrenker has lived.
  9. ^ a b c d WAAY-TV article: "Pilot Suspected of Faking Death Captured in Florida." - Article names Tara Daley as Schrenker's sister-in-law.
  10. ^ a b c d e Fox News article: "Timeline: Marcus Schrenker Plane Hoax Mystery".
  11. ^ "Investors Complained About Missing Ind. Pilot", Associated Press via Yahoo News, January 13, 2009
  12. ^ Pensacola News Journal article: "It's normally real quiet".
  13. ^ Women on the Web article: "Michelle Schrenker Ignorant of Hubby's Bad Business, Says Lawyer".
  14. ^ Indianapolis Star article: "Fishers businessman cut his wrist, officials say".
  15. ^ CNN article: "Florida plane crash".
  16. ^ Associated Press article: [1]
  17. ^ a b c Associated Press article: "Agent: Investor mutters "die" as run from law ends".
  18. ^ http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/worst_case_scenarios/4269526.html
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Tallahassee.com article: "Updated: Agencies traveling to Quincy to determine what charges fugitive Indiana businessman will face".
  20. ^ a b c d e f g MSNBC article: "Cockpit items led cops to missing financier."
  21. ^ a b The Scotsman article: "Financier fakes down death in air crash before fleeing".
  22. ^ ABC News article: "New Charges for Pilot Suspected of Faking Death".
  23. ^ MSNBC article: "Search continues for missing Geist pilot".
  24. ^ "Parachuting Fugitive Captured in Florida", Associated Press via Yahoo News, January 13, 2009
  25. ^ NECN news article: "Missing pilot Schrenker found".
  26. ^ a b MSNBC article: "Video shows Schrenker preparing for flight".
  27. ^ Associated Press article: "Lawyer: Man accused of crashing plane incompetent".
  28. ^ "$12 Million Judgment Against Schrenker", Associated Press via Yahoo News (February 6, 2009)
  29. ^ "Man gets 4 years for crashing plane, trying to fake death", CNN, August 19, 2009

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