Once deemed dead, fugi­tive banker pleads guilty

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

STATES­BORO, Ga. (AP) — Eigh­teen months ago, for­mer in­vest­ment ad­viser Aubrey Lee Price was de­clared dead. On Thurs­day, Price — very much alive — stood be­fore a judge and pleaded guilty in a fraud scheme that fu­eled a ru­ral bank’s col­lapse and cost his in­vestors tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.

“I gen­uinely and humbly ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for my un­law­ful be­hav­ior and crim­i­nal con­duct,” Price said in court, shorn of the long hair and beard he wore when a sher­iff’s deputy pulled him over on New Year’s Eve over tinted win­dows.

The 2013 traf­fic stop marked the end of Price’s time on the run. Price had van­ished in June 2012, leav­ing ram­bling sui­cide notes say­ing he planned to jump off a fer­ry­boat. Now, he faces a lengthy prison sen­tence.

His deal with prose­cu­tors calls for a max­i­mum of 30 years in prison in ex­change for guilty pleas to bank, wire and se­cu­ri­ties fraud. He also agreed to pay $51 mil­lion in resti­tu­tion for bank and in­vestor money that he lost, de­spite hav­ing con­vinced the court to ap­point him a lawyer be­cause he had no money to hire one.

Price, 47, told a U.S. District Court judge he lied to clients and gave them phony fi­nan­cial state­ments to cover his tracks as he lost their money in spec­u­la­tive trad­ing and other high­risk in­vest­ments. Af­ter his dis­ap­pear­ance, a judge de­clared him dead at his wife’s re­quest.

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