'Suicide letters' claimed that he planned to kill himself by throwing himself off a high-speed ferry boat.
Aubrey Lee Price, 48, was sentenced on Tuesday in Statesboro federal court to 30 years in federal prison for perpetrating a Ponzi scheme that resulted in millions of dollars of losses to dozens of Price’s investors and led to the collapse of a federally insured bank.
'Through a web of lies and deceit, (Price) conned his elderly investors and a federally insured bank of more than $70 million, and then attempted to further his con and avoid accountability by faking his own death. However, his life on the lam ended with a routine traffic stop', stated United States Attorney Lynch.
According court filings and evidence presented at the guilty plea and sentencing hearings, 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, he also defrauded approximately 115 individual investors who had invested $51 million in two investment funds he managed. Price lost almost all of that money through speculative trading, and to cover up his losses, Price posted fake account statements on a secure website that fraudulently reflected fictitious assets and fabricated investment returns for each investor.
In mid-June 2012, Price sent acquaintances 'suicide letters' in which he admitted he had defrauded MB&T Bank and Price’s individual investors, and that he planned to kill himself by throwing himself off a high-speed ferry boat after it left Key West, Florida. As a result of the suicide claim, the United States Coast Guard searched to no avail for Price’s body. Shortly after sending the letters, Price disappeared. After more than a year of searching for Price, he was arrested on December 31, 2013, after he presented a false identification during a routine traffic stop in Brunswick, Georgia.
Price has been in custody since his arrest on December 31, 2013. In addition to being sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment, Price was also sentenced to serve a term of five years of supervised release. Tarver noted that there is no parole in the federal system. As part of his sentence, Price will also be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes in an amount to be determined at a restitution hearing to be held by February 1, 2015. In addition, Price was ordered to forfeit a total of $51 million, representing the proceeds of his crimes.