Former Bradenton banker, Aubrey Lee Price, faces judge on multi-million dollar fraud charges

  • 0

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP/ABC News) -- A south Georgia bank director accused of losing millions of investor dollars before vanishing appeared in federal court Thursday.

Price lived with his wife and children in Bradenton before buying a home in Valdosta prior to his 2012 disappearance. He moved his family to the south Georgia city, where his wife's parents lived, just a few weeks before his disappearance.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was in a Savannah area federal court Thursday, reportedly telling the judge that he is broke and for the past 18 months worked as a migrant worker.

Prosecutors say Price raised $40 million from his bank and 115 investors, and lost much of the money.

"This is a great way to start the new year," said Wendy Cross. She's among 115 investors from Georgia and Florida whom prosecutors say Price swindled. Cross says she lost $360,000. "He's a thief and he's a liar."

According to the criminal complaint, Price collected about $40 million and then used that money to invest in a failing Georgia bank where the government says Price "stole, misappropriated and embezzled more than $21 million" directing much of that money to his own pockets. An estimated $17 million of the missing $40 million was from Montgomery Bank & Trust -- a small bank in Ailey, about 170 miles southeast of Atlanta, where Price acted as bank director, according to the bank's website. That bank was shut down in 2012.

"Not just my money but it was dreams and my future and my freedom. Gone," Cross said.

Price was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in Brunswick. His appearance, drastically altered.

Price disappeared in June 2012 after sending a rambling letter to his family and acquaintances saying he had lost millions of investment dollars and planned to kill himself.  

A Florida judge declared him dead about a year ago. But the FBI had said it didn't believe Price was dead and continued to search for him.

Price is facing a series of federal fraud-related charges. If convicted he could face at least 30 years in prison.