Aubrey Lee Price, an alleged fraudster who was missing and had been declared dead by a Florida judge last year at his wife’s request, was arrested when he was found alive and well in Brunswick, Georgia. According to CBS News, Price was pulled over for having tinted windows that were too dark. During the routine traffic stop, police learned his identity and he was arrested.
CBS News reported that Price vanished in June 2012 after sending letters to family members indicating that he was going to board a ferry in Key West, Florida and planned to take his life. In July 2012, Price was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge that he defrauded the Montgomery Bank & Trust out of more than $21 million. The letters sent by Price shortly before his disappearance allegedly included an admission that he had created false account statements to hide between $20 and $23 million of losses in investors’ funds.
In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) claims that Price bilked approximately 115 investors in Georgia and Florida out of nearly $40 million. Previously, the SEC obtained an order freezing Price’s assets, including a working corn farm in Venezuela, according to InvestmentNews.
The SEC’s Complaint filed in July 2012 alleged that Price raised money from investors through the sale of membership interests in unregistered investment funds, PFG and PFGBI. According to the SEC, investors were promised low volatility with positive returns through traditional investment opportunities such trading in U.S. equities. The SEC further alleges that approximately $36.9 million of investor funds was placed in a trading account at a broker-dealer.
The Complaint alleges that the securities trading account incurred significant trading losses and a substantial amount of the investors’ money was improperly transferred from the trading account to PFG’s operating account. The SEC claims that most of the investors’ funds were dissipated through poor equity performance, bad real estate investments, and the purchase of illiquid assets, including equipment and farms in South America.
The funds invested in PFGBI were used to fund the purchase of an equity ownership position in now-defunct Montgomery Bank & Trust. The SEC alleges that the bank’s reserves were also misappropriated by Price or depleted by trading losses.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced that Price is charged with one count of bank fraud which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. CBS News reports that Price is being held without bond.
According to several news outlets, after Price’s arrest, authorities in Florida located a home containing over 200 marijuana plants that they suspect Price was renting. The home reportedly contained identification cards containing Price’s photo, but with a different name.