Pilot pleads not guilty to federal charges

Published 3:31 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

The financial adviser who attempted to stage his own death by parachuting out of a plane over Shelby County has pleaded not guilty to charges of making a false distress call and purposely downing a plane.

Marcus Schrenker, 38, of Fishers, Ind., entered his plea Thursday in a Florida federal courtroom and is set to stand trial April 13, according to a CNN report. Schrenker’s public defender, Thomas Keith, said Schrenker may be found incompetent to stand trial due to a mental disorder.

On Jan. 11, Schrenker parachuted out of his six-passenger Piper Malibu plane after putting it on autopilot. The plane later crashed in Milton, Fla. near Pensacola. Schrenker was flying from Anderson, Ind. to Destin, Fla. when he made a distress call to air traffic controllers. Before taking to the skies, Schrenker had stored a motorcycle and some belongings at the East 280 Mini Warehouse in Harpersville. Schrenker later checked into the nearby Harpersville Motel.

Schrenker’s was captured at a Quincy, Fla. campsite near Tallahassee Jan. 13. Police discovered Schrenker with self-inflicted wounds to his left wrist consistent with a suicide attempt.

Schrenker is now being held at the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola, Fla.

Indiana authorities have issued two felony warrants against Schrenker. Schrenker was charged in Hamilton, County, Ind. Superior Court with two Class C felonies – unlawful acts by a compensated adviser and unlawful transaction by an investment adviser. A judge set Schrenker’s bond at $4 million.

The charges are linked to Schrenker’s three Indiana-based businesses – Heritage Wealth Management Inc., Heritage Insurance Services and Icon Wealth Management. Before his escape, Schrenker was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in a federal judgment.

Schrenker will be extradited to Indiana following his trial in Florida.