Once deemed dead, fugitive banker pleads guilty
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.