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article imageFugitive banker arrested on wire fraud charges

By Kelly Fetty     Jan 8, 2014 in Crime
Brunswick - A fugitive banker wanted by the FBI for wire fraud and declared dead by a Florida judge last year was arrested on a routine traffic stop while driving on I-95 in Brunswick, Georgia last Tuesday.
On December 31, Glynn County Sheriff's Deputies Brian Falk and Justin Juliano pulled over a Dodge pickup truck with illegally tinted windows. The driver had numerous identification cards but could not say which card identified him, Money News reports.
The two deputies described the arrest to a reporter for First Coast News.
"I'm gonna make you famous," the driver told Juliano and Falk. "And if you can accept the reward money, I'm gonna make you rich."
The driver told the deputies he was Aubrey Lee Price.
"I'm wanted by the FBI," he said.
Investment Advisor, Bank Director, Wanted Man
According to a United States Securities and Exchange (SEC) complaint, in 2008 Price was an investment advisor for a private fund called PFG. In 2009, PFG raised about $40 million dollars from 115 investors. The lion's share of that money — roughly $36.9 million — was placed in a securities trading account at Goldman Sachs.
Price invested the $36.9 million in a variety of ways, including farms and real estate in South America. The account "suffered massive trading losses," according to the SEC.
Price gave his clients phony statements claiming nonexistent profits.
Price also siphoned money from the Goldman Sachs account into PFG's operating account at Bank of America, N.A. By May 2012, the Goldman Sachs account had been emptied and closed.
Price's clients were never told.
In 2010, a group of PFG investors were persuaded to invest $10 million in a fund called PFGBI. The money in that fund was used to buy a controlling stake in Montgomery Bank and Trust, a small, struggling bank in Ailey, Ga.
Price became director of the bank.
As director, Price told bank employees to transfer over $20 million dollars to a trading account at Goldman Sachs. According to the SEC document, the bank's cash assets and reserves were "misappropriated by Price and lost in trading."
To conceal the losses, Price issued more false statements.
On June 16, 2012, Price disappeared.
Price told his wife, Rebekah, that he was travelling to Guatemala on a business trip, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
He had recently returned from a business trip to Venezuela.
On June 18, Price's family and friends received a 22-page letter titled Confidential Confession For Regulators — PFG, LLC and PFGI, LLC Summary.
"I realize that time is up," the letter begins, "and that there is no way that I can work my way out of the mess that I have created."
Before becoming a financial advisor Price had been an ordained minister, and the letter is laced with Bible scriptures condemning greed.
Many who read the letter thought Price was suicidal. An FBI "Wanted" poster indicated that he had last been seen boarding a ferry in Key West, Florida, wearing a backpack and dragging a wheeled suitcase.
Credit card records indicated that his last known purchases were diving weights and a ferry ticket, the New York Daily News reports.
Although a Florida judge declare Price dead last year, the FBI continued to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Multiple Investigations, Transient Lifestyle
By the time he was apprehended by Glynn County deputies, Price had been on the run for 18 months. He was now the subject of multiple investigations and indictments.
On June 28, 2012, a federal warrant was issued for Price on charges of wire fraud.
On July 11, 2012 a federal grand jury indicted Price for bank fraud.
In July 2012 the SEC filed a complaint against Price and froze his assets.
The man who emerged from the Dodge pickup with the tinted windows bore little resemblance to the clean-cut banker pictured on the FBI "Wanted" poster. Sporting shoulder-length dark hair and a goatee, Price had been living in a rented house in Marion County, Florida and going by the name "Jason," Yahoo News reports.
He told officers he worked as a migrant laborer and did odd jobs.
While he was in custody in Georgia, Florida police, acting on a tip, raided Price's rented house and removed 225 marijuana plants.
During his arrest, Price asked the deputies to tell his family he was alive before announcing his arrest to the press, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Price is married and has four children. None of them have been charged with a crime.
Will Goldman Sachs Be Sued?
Goldman Sachs could be sued for possible involvement in Price's alleged crimes.
Just as Price's arrest was making headlines, JP Morgan announced that it had reached a nearly $2 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in connection with Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
In 2009 Madoff was convicted of defrauding thousands of investors. JP Morgan was accused of ignoring his illegal activities while hosting his accounts.
Cleveland attorney John Chapman is representing dozens of Price's investors. In a July 2012 interview he told WSBTV, "We believe there was an indicia of money laundering that should have tipped off Goldman Sachs and spurred them to action, including investigation and shutting down that account,"
Goldman Sachs disputed the allegation in a statement.
"Mr. Chapman is mistaken. The accounts controlled by Mr. Price were with another broker dealer, for which Goldman Sachs Execution & Clearing, L.P., provided clearing services. We did not have any fiduciary duty toward these accounts," the statement said.
To date, Chapman and Associates has not filed suit against Goldman Sachs, and have not responded to questions about such a suit.
More about Aubrey Lee Price, Ponzi schemes, Goldman Sachs, Bank fraud, Securities and Exchange Commission
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