'Dead' Banker Arrested in $21 Million Fraud Charges

Despite never finding his body, a Florida judge declared him dead a year ago.

January 01, 2014, 2:08 PM

Jan. 1, 2014 — -- A banker who vanished in an apparent suicide in 2012 and was wanted by the FBI in connection with a $20 million wire fraud case has been arrested in Georgia after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was stopped while driving on I-95 in Glynn County, Ga., on Wednesday for a tinted window violation, according to police. Officers said that it was clear Price was giving them false information during the stop, and were soon able to determine he was wanted by the FBI.

Price's arrest comes more than a year after a Florida judge declared him to be legally dead. Despite the judge's ruling, the FBI continued to search for him and had offered a reward of up to $20,000 for his capture.

Price is scheduled to face a judge in an initial appearance at 10 a.m. Thursday at the federal courthouse in Brunswick.

He is alleged to have funneled approximately $21 million of money held at Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey, Ga., to security accounts. He then falsely represented the securities account balances to conceal his theft of funds or his trading losses, according to the FBI.

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Price in the United States District Court in Brooklyn on June 28, 2012, after he was charged with wire fraud.

In July 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Price and froze his assets.

"In order to conceal mounting losses of investor funds, Price created bogus account statements with false account balances and returns that were provided to investors and bank regulators," the SEC said in a press release.

Price has been known to fund, finance, and build churches in South America, along with doing mission work in the same areas, and has ties to Florida and Georgia, according to the FBI. He had traveled to Venezuela on June 2, 2012, just weeks before he vanished.

Price had become the director of Montgomery Bank & Trust in January 2011 when a company he owned infused capital into the bank and acquired a controlling stake, according to his arrest affidavit.

On June 18, 2012 Price told acquaintances in a 22-page letter entitled "Confidential Confession for Regulators" that he had lost a large amount of money through trading activities, according to his arrest affidavit, and that he planned to kill himself by jumping from a ferry boat off the Florida coast.

"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 confession letter that investigators believe was written by Price, according to The Associated Press.

"I created false statements, covered up my losses and deceived and hurt the very people I was trying to help," he wrote.

"No one else had any knowledge of any fraudulent activity," Price said, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

Montgomery Bank & Trust failed in July 2012, less than a month after Price disappeared.

Price had last been seen boarding a ferry boat in Key West, Fla., bound for Fort Myers, Fla., on June 16, 2012. Surveillance footage purported to be of Price boarding the ferry has been posted to YouTube.

Despite never finding his body, a Florida judge declared Price dead a year ago, the AP reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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