Ex-bank director who faked death pleads guilty to fraud

Aubrey Lee Price

STATESBORO, Ga. – A former bank director who faked his own death pleaded guilty Thursday to bank, securities and wire fraud.

The plea by 47-year-old Aubrey Price resolves charges brought in the Southern District of Georgia and the Eastern District of New York relating to a multimillion dollar fraud scheme that Price executed to defraud dozens of investors and a federally insured bank.

Price now faces up to 30 years in prison, millions of dollars in fines and millions of dollars in restitution to the victims of his fraud.

According to court filings and evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing, in 2010, an investment group controlled by Price invested about $10 million in the failing Montgomery Bank & Trust, an FDIC-insured financial institution in Ailey.

Price was then made a director of MB&T and put in charge of investing the bank's capital. Price told MB&T officials that he would invest the bank's capital in U.S. Treasury securities, but instead, over the next 18 months, Price embezzled over $21 million in capital from MB&T, and lost much of it by investing in risky equity securities and options.

To cover up his fraud, Price provided MB&T officials with bogus account statements and other false documents, which falsely indicated the bank's capital was safely held in an account at a financial services firm, when in truth, most of the money was gone.

A further investigation of Price revealed that between June 2009 and June 2012, Price also defrauded numerous individuals who had invested in two investment funds Price managed, PFG LLC and the Montgomery Growth Fund. Price raised about $51 million from about 115 investors from across the country and unsuccessfully invested funds in various equity securities, options and real estate, including farms in South America.

To cover up his losses, Price posted fake account statements on a secure PFG website that fraudulently reflected fictitious assets and fabricated investment returns.

In mid-June 2012, Price sent acquaintances "suicide letters" in which he admitted he had defrauded MB&T Bank and his PFG investors, and suggested that he planned to kill himself by throwing himself off a high-speed ferry boat after it left the coast of Florida. As a result of the suicide claim, the U.S. Coast Guard searched to no avail for Price's body.

Shortly after sending the letters, Price disappeared. After a several-month search, on Dec. 31, Price was arrested after he presented a false identification to a member of the Glynn County Sheriff's Office during a routine traffic stop in Brunswick.