ATLANTA (AP) — A bank director accused of losing millions of investors’ dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was arrested Wednesday during a stop for a vehicle and traffic violation on Interstate 95 in Brunswick by members of the Glynn County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. attorney’s office in Savannah said. Price is set to make his initial appearance before a federal judge in Brunswick on Thursday.
Price disappeared in June 2012 after sending a rambling letter to his family and acquaintances that investigators described as a confession. A Florida judge declared him dead a year ago, but the FBI had said it didn’t believe Price was dead and continued to search for him.
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 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. 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 controlled 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.
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