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Indiana money manager charged in plane crash, death hoax

By Jessica Gresko and Jay Reeves
Associated Press / January 15, 2009
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CHATTAHOOCHEE, Fla. - An Indiana investment manager who allegedly staged a plane crash to evade personal and financial ruin was charged yesterday with intentionally downing the plane and faking a distress call, a spokesman for the US Marshals Service said.

The charges came a day after investigators tracked Marcus Schrenker, 38, to a campground in north Florida. He had apparently tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists and muttered the word "die" when federal agents found him bleeding, investigators said.

Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the US Marshals in the Northern District of Florida, said it isn't immediately known when Schrenker will appear on the charges because he is recovering from his wounds in a hospital.

The saga started Sunday night, when military jets intercepted the plane after authorities received a distress call that claimed Schrenker's windshield had blown in. The plane later crashed in a north Florida bayou after traveling 200 miles on autopilot, authorities said.

Schrenker's body was nowhere to be found in the wreckage, and authorities suspect he parachuted out of the plane in Alabama, where he had stashed a red motorcycle with saddlebags in a storage unit. By Monday, the motorcycle was gone and an owner at the unit said his clothes were left behind.

Schrenker, who already faces mounting debt, complaints that he cheated investors out of savings, and his crumbling marriage, is looking at more trouble ahead. Authorities have said they may try to make him pay for the cost of the search and he also faces charges in Indiana that he acted as a financial manager with an expired license.

"We were happy to know that he is alive and safe . . . but now we're going to make sure he's being held properly accountable for his actions," said Jeffrey Wehmueller, administrative chief deputy for Indiana's Hamilton County.

Schrenker's run ended at the campground late Tuesday, when officers found him bleeding from a self-inflicted gash to the wrist. It wasn't clear how he was tracked to the campsite.

The gash was serious, said Frank Chiumento, an assistant chief with the US Marshals in Florida, and Schrenker was rushed to the hospital in a medical helicopter.

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