Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ludicriously tragic ways financiers do themselves in.

Ahh, my strange fascination for the camp ways in which today's financiers do themselves in. I never did get to blog about Bernie Madoff, although I (obviously) followed the case in whatever newspapers I managed to find left behind on the London Underground. You'll remember my entry about the Paul Giamatti doppleganger who faked his own death by parking his car on a bridge and scrawling those immortal words "suicide is painless" across the hood. In that entry, I also mention Norman Hsu, the Clinton campaign contributor and Ponzi scheme operator, caught fleeing from justice on a train on account of his being violently ill. Then there was fund manager and CNBC comentator Seth Tobias, found dead in his own pool, possibly drowned by his wife. His story is worthy of it's very own Lifetime made-for-tv movie (here's a quote from the NY Times article: "Mrs. Tobias confessed to him that she had cajoled her husband into the water while he was on a cocaine binge with a promise of sex with a male go-go dancer known as Tiger.").

The latest in this list is Marcus Schrenker, another financier who faked his own death by leaping out of a plane and making his escape by way of hidden motorcycle. Here's a description of the shenanigans, courtesy Jessica Pressler of New York Magazine:

The Plan: Schrenker, an accomplished pilot, would arrange to fly himself back from Florida to Indianapolis. Near Birmingham, Alabama, he would radio a distress call, parachute out of the plane, and when it crashed later, everyone would assume he died! Or something!
Where It Went Wrong: When Schrenker made his distress call, he overelaborated, saying "his windshield had shattered and he was bleeding profusely." When the plane was later found in a Florida swamp — where it had landed and thankfully not injured anyone — the windshield remained unbroken, and there was no blood in the plane.

The Plan: When he emerged from the woods 200 miles away, he would tell police he had been in a "canoe accident."
Where It Went Wrong: He was still wearing aviation goggles.

The Plan: Check into a motel, then casually disappear. Go pick up red motorcycle stashed in a storage unit and drive into the sunset.
Where It Went Wrong: (1) According to motel owner Yogi Patel, Schrenker was "last seen running into the woods wearing a black hat." (2) He rented the storage unit in his own name. (3) A red motorcycle? Really? (4) Around this time, a self-congratulatory video Schrenker made of himself doing DARING STUNTS on an airplane made him a giant YouTube star.

The Plan: Go to campground, commit suicide.
Where It Went Wrong: Marcus slashed only one wrist, and somehow punctured his elbow.

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