STATESBORO, GEORGIA — Aubrey Lee Price, 47, has pleaded guilty to bank, securities, and wire fraud to resolve 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. Based upon his guilty pleas, 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.
The guilty plea took place before the Honorable B. Avant Edenfield, Senior U.S. District Judge for the southern district of Georgia. U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Tarver and Loretta E. Lynch announced the guilty pleas.
According to court filings and evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing, in 2010, an investment group controlled by Price invested approximately $10 million in the failing Montgomery Bank & Trust, an FDIC-insured financial institution in Ailey, Georgia. 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 approximately $51 million from approximately 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 off 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 search of several months, on December 31, 2013, Price was arrested after he presented a false identification to a member of the Glynn County Georgia Sheriff’s Department during a routine traffic stop in Brunswick, Georgia.
This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was created in November 2009 to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.