Aubrey Lee Price is back from the "dead" to face
charges he defrauded a Georgia bank out of millions of dollars.
The former Montgomery Bank & Trust director appeared in federal district court in Brunswick, Ga., Thursday following his disappearance last year after allegedly stealing $21 million from the lender in a scheme that affected at least 100 investors.
Price was arrested Tuesday about 100 miles from his family's home in southern Georgia after law enforcement officials stopped his car on Interstate 95 for a routine traffic violation.
Price, 47, vanished in June 2012 after telling his family he was going to Guatemala on a business trip. Several days later, his family and financial regulators received letters saying he had lost a large sum of money and planned to take his own life by jumping off a ferry that runs between Key West, Fla., and Fort Myers, Fla.
"My depression and discouragement have driven me to deep anxiety, fear and shame," he wrote in an apparent confession letter. "I am emotionally overwhelmed and incapable of continuing in this life."
"I created false statements, covered up my losses and deceived and hurt the very people I was trying to help," the letter said.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Price was homeless before his arrest this week. He reportedly told a U.S. marshal that during his time on the run he supported
himself by working as a migrant worker and by doing odd jobs.
Although Price was declared legally dead a year after his
disappearance, the FBI continued to pursue the case. Authorities thought he may
have fled to South America with as much as $17 million in investor money.
In Georgia, Price is charged with one count of bank fraud. According to a federal indictment, an investment group he controlled in 2010 invested roughly $10 million in struggling Montgomery Bank & Trust of Ailey, Ga.
In July 2012, the bank was seized by financial regulators.
After being named a director of the company and asked to oversee its investments, Price "stole, misappropriated and embezzled" money from the bank, according to federal authorities. Price allegedly doctored account statements to cover his tracks.
If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. Price faces additional wire fraud charges in New York.