Judge: Schrenker competent to stand trial

Marcus Schrenker

Miami - A federal judge found former Geist money manager Marcus Schrenker competent to stand trial.

The 38-year-old is accused of defrauding former clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and intentionally crashing his plane in Florida to fake his death.  He's also charged with making a phony distress call to air traffic controllers.

Schrenker faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty at his trial, which is scheduled to begin June 8th.

Earlier this week Schrenker said he wasn't of sound mind before parachuting from his plane and letting it crash in Florida.

Along with the federal charges, he faces millions in judgments and penalties related to his failed Indiana business dealings.

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita issued the following statement upon learning of a Florida court's competency ruling on Marcus Schrenker:

"The court's ruling today allows the criminal justice process to move forward and makes Marcus Schrenker begin to take responsibility for his actions. I look forward to working with the Hamilton County Prosecutor once Schrenker is returned to Indiana. I will continue to fight for the victims in this case by attempting to recover the Schrenkers' ill-gotten gains through the receivership action my office filed in January of this year."

In a four-page letter the AP received Wednesday, Marcus Schrenker said his business and marriage were collapsing, and that one day he would explain "why he did what he did."

"I speak of this publicly to warn others, especially in these stressful times, if you think you are on the edge and need help, get it before you wind up hurting yourself or someone else. If I would have got help I wouldn't be where I am today," Schrenker wrote in the letter sent from the Pensacola jail where he was taken after his Jan. 13 arrest by federal marshals at a remote campground.

Financial investigators say investors lost millions through Schrenker whose high-flying lifestyle included planes, luxury cars and a 10,000-square-foot home in an upscale neighborhood known as "Cocktail Cove," where affluent boaters often socialized with cocktails in hand.

Authorities said Schrenker, an amateur daredevil pilot, put his small plane on autopilot and bailed out near Birmingham, Ala., after making false distress calls. He then sped away on a motorcycle that he had stashed, leaving the plane to drift for 200 miles before it ran out of fuel and crashed in a marshy area near several homes.

When U.S. Marshals found Schrenker, 38, at the campground, he was bleeding from a slit wrist.

Schrenker's 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 his losing a $533,000 judgment to an insurance company.

"I never asked for the help I needed and one day it all came crashing down around me," Schrenker wrote in his letter, which he hoped would show a "softer, family sensitive" side.

Schrenker said he looks forward to one day reuniting with his three young children and his wife and again listening to songs by country singer Kenny Chesney on their boat.

"We are just a family that lost everything in 15 days, in a lot of pain and we really miss each other," he said.

He also wrote that the public deserved some answers.

"In time and some day, I hope I will be well enough to tell the story of what happened up there," he wrote. "Why I did what I did. I cannot just yet for obvious reasons and also the memories are too painful. But I promise, some day I will, from start to finish. Some day."

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