Courts await money manager's release from hospital

By: AP
By: AP

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- An Indiana financial manager suspected of staging his death in a plane crash and leading authorities on a chaotic three-day, multistate manhunt was recovering from a suicide attempt at a hospital Thursday as his legal troubles mounted.

It could be days before Marcus Schrenker, 38, is well enough to make the 200-mile trip from Tallahassee to Pensacola, where he is expected to appear on federal charges of intentionally wrecking his plane and making a phony distress call. Doctors were expected to re-examine Schrenker on Friday to see if he was well enough to leave, the U.S. Marshals said.

"Because of doctor-patient confidentiality (the hospital) is being very tight lipped with us," said Dominic Guadagnoli, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Office in Pensacola.

U.S. Marshals found Schrenker at a north Florida campground Tuesday night, semi-conscious and bleeding heavily from a self-inflicted wrist gash. The capture ended a saga that began Sunday when his plane crashed near homes in a Florida bayou, but he was nowhere to be found. Authorities think the crash was an attempt to stage his death as he faced divorce and allegations of financial fraud, and say he left the plane on autopilot, parachuted out over Alabama and sped away on a red motorcycle.

Investigators tracked him to the campground after finding a a 50-state U.S. road atlas with the Alabama and Florida pages removed inside the plane's cockpit, according to an affidavit filed in support of the federal charges. They also found a national campground directory with the same two states' listings torn out.

If he is convicted of the federal charges, he could face up to 20 years in prison and be billed for the cost of the search.

Schrenker will be prosecuted first in Florida, then Indiana, authorities said. Indiana officials said that the charges related to the crash are more clear cut, while many of the allegations against him in Indiana are still being sorted out.

As of Thursday, it was still unclear if he had retained an attorney.

He will likely face a parade of legal proceedings in the coming months. Already, he has been charged with acting as a financial manager even though his license had expired in Indiana. State regulators also have alleged that he unfairly charged seven investors some $250,000 in exorbitant fees he didn't tell them about in advance.

Jeff Wehmueller, administrative chief deputy prosecutor in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, said it could be April before Schrenker appears in an Indiana courtroom.

"We all want to get justice out of Mr. Schrenker, and there's a lot of justice to go around," Wehmueller said.

Associated Press Writer Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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