Ex-banker Aubrey Lee Price pleads guilty

Aubrey Lee Price, the former bank director who faked his suicide and was declared dead before being found alive last year, pleaded guilty to three charges in federal court in Statesboro this morning.

Price will face up to 30 years in prison as part of a plea agreement and will pay restitution of up to $51 million. He will be sentenced at a later date.

“I genuinely and humbly accept responsibility for my unlawful behavior and criminal conduct. I betrayed and lost the confidence of my fellow man,” he told the judge, his voice cracking.

Price called the period “deeply humiliating” and said he was filled with remorse. He admitted to trying marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, morphine, Xanax and Adderall while he was on the lam.

Price pleaded guilty to one count each of securities fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud. An additional 14 charges were dismissed. His family was not present in court.

Price did not detail his crimes, but prosecutors said when he was captured by police New Year’s Eve after 18 months in hiding, he was found with a book that laid out what he had done.

In his confession, Price called it “the most inglorious period of my life.”

The former banker was accused of embezzling more than $21 million from Montgomery Bank & Trust, a small bank in Ailey, 170 miles south of downtown Atlanta. Price and a group of investors from his advisory business had pumped $10 million into the bank to save it in late 2010.

Price, 47, initially pleaded not guilty.

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.

Reporters Scott Trubey and Arielle Kass will update the story throughout the day. Return to ajc.com and MyAJC.com to get the latest news.

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