He’s back from the dead and federal authorities are delighted to see him.
A banker wanted for $21 million wire fraud who fooled many into believing he had committed suicide in 2012 has been arrested in south Georgia.
Authorities say Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was pulled over by police in Brunswick for his vehicle’s illegally tinted windows on Tuesday and after a bit of questioning, they realized who he was.
Price, freshly seen in his mug shot with dark shoulder-length hair and facial hair — a stark contrast from his previous squeaky-clean image — told family he planned to kill himself by leaping from a boat in the Florida Keys 18 months ago.
The suicide claim came after he was accused of defrauding Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey of the millions while serving as a director.
A Florida judge declared him dead with Price having been seen on surveillance footage boarding a ferry at Key West after purchasing diving weights.
But the FBI refused to believe the same.
Prosecutors have said Price had raised roughly $40 million from about 115 investors, mostly in Georgia and Florida, through the sale of membership interests in his investment firm.
Authorities believe Price slipped away with up to $17 million of investors’ money. He has been indicted in federal courts in New York and Georgia, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint against him in federal court in Atlanta.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett said in an email Tuesday that he didn’t know whether Price’s wife and children had known that he was still alive.
His family had previously told investigators they believed Price was dead. A call to a number listed for his wife in Valdosta on Tuesday evening by the Associated Press did not go through.
Price left his home in south Georgia on June 16, 2012, telling his family he was headed to Guatemala for business, authorities have said.
HYOSUB SHIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Price worked as a director at Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey, Georgia, where he admitted to stealing millions of dollars from investors.
Two days later, Price’s family and acquaintances received letters saying he was going to Key West to board a ferry headed to Fort Meyers and planned to jump off somewhere along the way to end his life.
“My depression and discouragement have driven me to deep anxiety, fear and shame. I am emotionally overwhelmed and incapable of continuing in this life,” said a rambling confession letter investigators believe was written by Price.
“I created false statements, covered up my losses and deceived and hurt the very people I was trying to help,” the letter said.
Credit card records showed he purchased dive weights and a ferry ticket. The ferry ticket was scanned at the boarding point, and security camera footage released by the FBI about six weeks after his disappearance showed Price at the Key West, Fla., airport and ferry terminal on the day he disappeared.
Price owned real estate in Venezuela and had told people he frequently went there and to Guatemala.
The FBI said in February that investigators had accounted for all the vehicles Price owned, except for a 17-foot fiberglass boat.
The agency said at the time that it was possible Price had used the boat to flee and may still be using it.
Price became director of Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey, Ga., in December 2010, when a company he ran bought a controlling portion of the bank’s stock, according to a complaint filed in June 2012 in federal court in New York.
Price then opened brokerage accounts through a securities clearing and custodial firm in New York and told bank managers he would invest in U.S. Treasury securities.
Instead of investing the bank’s money, authorities say Price wired the funds into accounts he controlled at other financial institutions and provided bank managers with fraudulent documents.
Price lived with his wife and children in Bradenton, Fla., but bought a home in Valdosta in the months before his disappearance, according to authorities.
Price had moved his family to the south Georgia city, where his wife’s parents lived, just a few weeks before he disappeared.
With News Wire Services