- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

HARPERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) | An investor who had entrusted money to an Indiana financial manager suspected of trying to fake his own death in a plane crash said Tuesday he had complained to state regulators that the man was unfairly charging high fees and pocketing the money.

The complaints were yet another sign that Marcus Schrenker’s life was crumbling around him in the weeks before he took off in his small plane, then apparently parachuted out over Alabama before leaving the plane on autopilot to crash in Florida.

The Indiana Department of Insurance had filed a complaint against Mr. Schrenker on behalf of seven investors last January that claimed he cost them more than $250,000 because he never told them they would face high fees to switch annuities. Investors said he cozied up to their families - then betrayed them.

“We’ve learned over time that he’s a pathological liar - you don’t believe a single word that comes out of his mouth,” said Charles Kinney, a 49-year-old airline pilot from Atlanta who went to regulators on behalf of his parents, who invested $900,000 of their life savings with him.

A hearing in the case was scheduled for next week, when Mr. Schrenker’s license in Indiana could be revoked for life and he could face penalties. On Tuesday, prosecutors purported Mr. Schrenker had been advising clients even though his license had expired Dec. 31, and a judge ordered him arrested on financial fraud charges.

Mr. Kinney said Mr. Schrenker became so close with his parents that he even vacationed with them at their Georgia lake house. But he claims Mr. Schrenker never told his parents that a transaction to transfer their money to a deferred annuity would cost them more than $135,000 in “surrender penalties.” Later, his brother discovered $60,000 was missing from his father-in-law’s account, something he said Mr. Schrenker explained by saying the money was in complex financial statements.

Mr. Schrenker’s disappearance has perplexed authorities in three states as they scrambled to put together the pieces of what looked like an elaborate plan sketched out to escape financial doom. In the days before the crash, Mr. Schrenker’s home and business had been searched by authorities probing his financial management businesses, his wife filed for divorce, his stepfather died and a court in Maryland entered a half-million-dollar judgment against him.

The case took another cinematic turn Tuesday, when investigators said it looked like Mr. Schrenker stashed a red motorcycle in an Alabama storage unit before the crash, then retrieved it and fled.

“He could be anywhere at all. Within 10 hours he could be in New Orleans, halfway to Houston, in Atlanta, anywhere,” said Harpersville Police Chief David Latimer.

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