A Georgia man accused of looting his bank and swindling investors out of tens of millions of dollars before faking his death allegedly lived life on the lam without telling his family he was alive and grew hundreds of marijuana plants at a Florida rental home. Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was arrested last week after a Georgia sheriff's deputy pulled over his 2001 Dodge on suspicions that the car's windows were illegally tinted. He has since appeared before a federal magistrate judge, where he was formally notified of pending bank fraud charges levied by a Georgia grand jury. Price also faces fraud charges handed down by a New York grand jury.
Price raised money from investors through several entities he controlled, including PFG, LLC, and Montgomery Asset Management, LLC f/k/a PFG Asset Management, LLC. Potential investors believed they were investing in a fund that sought "positive total returns with low volatility" through investing in low-risk securities such as equity securities traded on the U.S. markets. Price is alleged to have raised at least $40 million from investors, and would later use investor funds to purchase an equity ownership interest in a South Georgia bank on the brink of failure.
He garnered national attention after authoring a purported suicide note in June 2012 admitting to losing tens of millions of dollars of investor funds and indicating that he intended to commit suicide. After Price boarded a ferry in Key West, Florida, his trail went cold. While many presumed Price had committed suicide, as suggested by Price's credit card receipts showing the purchase of dive weights before boarding the ferry, the FBI refused to accept that Price had followed through with his plans. Price was indicted by Georgia authorities on bank fraud charges shortly after his disappearance, and was later indicted by New York authorities on fraud charges.
A clearer story of Price's whereabouts during his disappearance is beginning to emerge. Recent reports suggest that Price fits the description of a man named "Jason" who was renting a house and adjoining mobile home in Ocala, Florida - several hours north of the Florida city that was the end destination of the ferry Price boarded in Key West. According to a Marion County, Florida, police report, police removed more than 200 marijuana plants from the property, as well as a variety of identification documents bearing Price's photo but with different names.
Another revelation from Price's arrest was his confession to authorities that his family did not know he was still alive. A federal probation officer seemingly corroborated this account, recounting to the court that Price allegedly worked odd jobs as a migrant worker during the 18 months since his disappearance. According to Price, he was in Georgia for the purpose of renewing the tag on his truck. A report from First Coast news quotes Price as telling a sheriff's deputy that he was "going to make them famous."
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Price's purported disappearance prompted an air search that cost the U.S. Coast Guard more than $170,000. It is possible Price could face additional charges for the response mounted by the Coast Guard to his disappearance.
A copy of the New York indictment is below:
A copy of the Georgia indictment is below: