Schrenker denies crashing plane intentionally

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Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Hamilton County - The former Geist money manager charged with intentionally crashing his plane in a Florida swamp is sharing his side of the story with a nationwide audience.

Marcus Schrenker appeared by phone on Good Morning America, saying that claims that he tried to fake his death after his plane crashed in Florida are absurd.

The 38-year-old disgraced money manager told ABC that he'd survived an actual accident on January 11 by parachuting to safety after his plane hit what he called "clear air turbulence" and the oxygen system began to fail. Federal prosecutors say Schrenker hatched an elaborate plot to fake his death after allegedly bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from former clients.

He said he was injured in the plane, not in a later suicide attempt.

"The oxygen system failed and when a pilot's not getting oxygen, he becomes hypoxic or spatially disoriented. It's very dangerous. I exceeded the structural limits of that aircraft. Before anybody ever asked me a question what happened, they jumped to this conclusion," Schrenker said.

Schrenker did say by phone from a Pensacola jail where he's held that he's suffered from mental problems for the last two years.

"There was clearly something going on mentally with me starting in 2007. Five days before the accident, they wanted me to be hospitalized and I refused. I wasn't of sound mind," he said.

Schrenker denied trying to fake his own death.

"It's absolutely absurd. Let's kind of step back for a minute and talk about what someone would have to do if they wanted to fake their own death. They would have to establish a new identity. They would also have to have a well funded bank account, a job that they're going to work, a place they're going to live, and I did nothing like that," Schrenker said.

Schrenker was arrested at a Tallahassee, Fla., campground on Jan. 13, two days after officials say he put his plane on autopilot and bailed out to flee personal and financial problems. Police say Schrenker had a motorcycle in a storage unit, which he drove to the campground after parachuting out of the plane.

A federal judge in Pensacola has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on whether Schrenker is competent to stand trial on criminal charges stemming from the crash in northwest Florida.

The former money manager says he was not stealing money from clients. In the interview, Schrenker blamed his financial problems on the market, saying his losses were genuine.

Meantime, the insurance company that covered Schrenker's airplane wants a court to protect it from having to pay for the loss.

US Specialty Insurance asked a judge to issue an order that would keep them from paying for the plane.

Schrenker is facing federal charges in Florida and will likely face charges in Hamilton County. He said he wants to reconcile with his wife and believes his legal problems can be worked out.

Schrenker has also said he plans to write a book about his experiences.

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