Parachuting money manager faces felony charges

Published 2:38 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

The former money manager who parachuted into Harpersville in 2009 in an attempt to fake his own death will face security fraud charges Sept. 15 in Indiana, according to court documents.

Marcus Schrenker pled guilty to five of the nine felony counts of fraudulently selling securities in a plea agreement with Hamilton County prosecutors.

Marcus Schrenker

Jeffrey Wehmueller, administrative chief deputy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office, said if the judge accepts the plea agreement in the hearing, Schrenker will face 10 years in prison and could pay up to $600,000 in restitution.

Schrenker is accused of misappropriating $1.5 million of investors’ money before attempting to fake his own death in Florida.

Schrenker was sentenced last year to four years in federal prison for intentionally crashing his plane to fake his death.

Wehmueller said they will ask the judge Sept. 15 not to allow Schrenker to serve the two prison terms at the same time.

“There is only one issue left for the judge to decide,” Wehmueller said. “We could not come to an agreement on whether the sentence out of Florida should be served concurrently or consecutively. We believe the court doesn’t have the authority to run them concurrently.”

Authorities believe Schrenker tried to fake his death to avoid mounting legal and personal troubles. He was accused of meticulously planning his escape in January 2009 by driving to Harpersville from Indiana to store a motorcycle and supplies at the U.S. 280 East Mini Warehouse. He then returned to Indiana to pilot his plane to Destin, Fla.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said Schrenker made a distress call to air traffic controllers in Georgia before putting his plane in autopilot and parachuting into Harpersville.

When the plane was found crashed in Florida, authorities began the search for Schrenker.

He was arrested in a campground near Tallahassee two days later with slit wrists from an alleged suicide attempt.

Wehmueller said Schrenker only recently entered the plea agreement after changing his original plea of not guilty.

“I was surprised,” he said. “He was very adamant in his earlier communication with the press that this was all some kind of mistake, that he really did have an accident in the air. This is consistent to how he behaved in the Florida court, also.”