Schrenker claims mental trouble before plane crash-WEB ONLY

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An Indiana money manager said he “wasn’t of sound mind” before parachuting from his plane and letting it crash in Florida in what authorities say was an attempt to fake his own death.

In a telephone interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” for broadcast today, Marcus Schrenker said his plane crashed in Florida after hitting what he called clear-air turbulence. He says he was injured in the plane, not in a later suicide attempt.

Schrenker has made similar claims before about the January crash being an accident. A federal judge in Pensacola, Fla., has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to determine whether Schrenker is competent to stand trial on criminal charges stemming from the crash there near a residential area.

Schrenker said in the ABC interview that he has had mental problems for years.

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

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 over Alabama to flee personal and financial problems. He was found semiconscious and bleeding heavily from what authorities said was a self-inflicted wrist gash.

Schrenker is accused of bilking investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars and faces felony charges tied to his financial dealings in Indiana. His wife filed for divorce Dec. 30, the day before investigators searched his suburban Indianapolis home.

Schrenker also faces millions in judgments and potential penalties. Those ranged from an insurance company’s lawsuit seeking $1.4 million in commissions to a judge’s order that he pay $12 million in a lawsuit over the sale of a plane.

In the interview, Schrenker denied stealing money from his clients.

“What happened was the market imploded,” he said. “We all know that. And our losses were genuine.”

Schrenker also denied deliberately crashing the plane in an attempt to fake his death and said he was forced to bail out when the plane decompressed.

“It was probably the most frightening thing I’ve been through in my life,” he said.

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