Fraud counts added against ex-fugitive bank director


Fraud counts added against ex-fugitive bank director

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A South Georgia bank director who staged his death and is accused of embezzlement has sent remorseful letters to some investors he allegedly bilked. In the letters, Aubrey Lee Price says he does not expect forgiveness, but wants to offer former investors his “deepest and sincere apologies for the financial, emotional, and painful losses you have experienced as a result of my mismanagement of your investments.” FULL ARTICLE HERE | IN DEPTH: How a living fugitive was declared dead | ALSO: ‘Dead’ banker a man of God, money | READ: Aubrey Lee Price confession letter

Key dates in the saga

Dec. 2010: An investment group affiliated with Aubrey Lee Price takes a majority stake in troubled Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey.

June 2012: Price disappears. His family and some business associates receive letters saying he was responsible for defrauding clients, and authorities say Price informed relatives he planned to jump off a Florida ferry to end his life. A note, bearing Price’s name but not his signature, confesses to concealing losses.

July 2012: Regulators shut down MB&T, and Price is indicted in Savannah on a federal bank fraud charge. Regulators freeze his assets. Former clients file complaints for damages from an Atlanta firm where Price once worked. The FBI says it is working with foreign agencies to try to find Price.

January 2013: Justice officials announce a separate indictment in New York charging Price with securities and wire fraud. It alleges Price invested about $40 million from 115 investors, then covered up losses with fake account statements.

February 2013: The FBI says all vehicles and watercraft believed to belong to Price are accounted for, except a 17-foot Sea Ray fiberglass boat.

Dec. 31: Glynn County deputies pull over a pickup Price was driving near Brunswick. Authorities say they found multiple IDs and later determined Price’s real identity.

Jan. 8: Price pleads not guilty to a single count of bank fraud.

April 10: Price pleads not guilty to 17 counts of bank fraud in a superseding indictment.

Federal prosecutors have broadened the indictment against a former fugitive South Georgia bank director who was arrested on New Year’s Eve after 18 months on the run.

The new “superseding” indictment raises the number of bank fraud counts against Aubrey Lee Price to 17, from one originally. Price pleaded not guilty Thursday in a hearing in Statesboro.

A email message left for one of Price’s attorneys was not immediately returned.

Price, an investment adviser and preacher, is accused of embezzling more than $21 million from Montgomery Bank & Trust, a small bank in the town of Ailey. Price and a group of investors from his advisory business had pumped $10 million into the bank to save it in late 2010.

Prosecutors said Price took control of the bank’s securities portfolio and diverted money from bank reserves, then lost it in speculative trading and other investments. Price separately is accused in a civil case of misappropriating funds from clients in his investment business.

In June 2012, Price disappeared and the bank failed the following month. In suicide notes sent to his family and associates, Price admitted to misappropriating money and producing false financial statements in frenzied attempts to make back heavy losses.

He was seen boarding a ferry in Key West, Fla., and later declared dead by a Florida court. Price was arrested on Dec. 31 near Brunswick, Ga., following a traffic stop.

The new indictment outlines 17 transactions from January 2011 to May 2012 in which Price allegedly moved money from bank reserves to a trading account he controlled at Goldman Sachs. Prosecutors allege Price created fake account statements to hide his trading activities from bank officials.

Since his arrest, Price has sent remorseful letters from jail to some former investors. In the letters, Price pledged to work for the benefit of his clients.

In a separate civil lawsuit, attorneys working to return money to Price’s clients, have sued three former insiders at Montgomery Bank, accusing them of not fully disclosing the poor condition of the bank. Those insiders have denied those accusations and are seeking to have the case dismissed.

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