PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - An Indiana money manger who crashed his plane and parachuted to safety in an elaborate scheme to fake his death and flee financial ruin was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in federal prison.
Marcus Schrenker, 38, sobbed and gave a rambling speech during a four-hour sentencing hearing. He apologized to air traffic controllers, his family, and residents of the Florida Panhandle town where his plane went down near some homes on Jan. 11.
"To this day I cannot believe I could do something so reckless and selfish," he told U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson on Wednesday. "I believe a divine force gently put the aircraft down in the swamp. It is my hope the residents of Milton feel my pain. If someone had gotten hurt, I do not know what I would do."
Also Wednesday, prosecutors in Hamilton County, Ind., added nine felony counts of fraudulent sale of securities to the two Schrenker already faced there.
The state's Securities Division is working to recover lost money for people who invested with him, though it appears there's not much available. In Pensacola, Schrenker asked Vinson for a shorter sentence so he could work to make restitution and support his family.
Vinson ordered Schrenker to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution to the company that financed the single-engine Piper Malibu he destroyed and $35,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard for an extensive search and rescue effort.
He bailed out over Alabama and left the plane on autopilot in hopes it would drift to the Gulf of Mexico and he could run away from his failing marriage and business. Military jets that tried to intercept the plane got no response as it drifted for 200 miles until it ran out of fuel and crashed in the town of Milton. No one was hurt.
Schrenker's estranged wife, Michelle, who is from La Porte, and his father and stepmother watched stoically through the hearing as he cried loudly.
Vinson rejected Schrenker's request for a shorter sentence, saying he agreed with a prison psychiatrist who diagnosed him as a narcissist who lacked empathy and desired attention from women. Under federal guidelines, the judge could have given him an additional year in prison.
His wife filed for divorce Dec. 30, a day before Indiana police served a search warrant on his home and office.
They seized computers, financial documents and evidence of recent document shredding, all within days of him losing a $533,000 judgment to an insurance company.