Former Bank Director Charged with Securities and Wire Fraud Following Manhunt
Defendant Who Misappropriated $17 Million from Investors Faked His Own Death
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 02, 2014|
BROOKLYN, NY—Earlier today, Aubrey Lee Price was presented at the federal courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, near where he was arrested. The defendant, who sent acquaintances a suicide note stating that he planned to kill himself by throwing himself off a high-speed ferry boat in Florida, has been wanted since June 27, 2012, when the Honorable Viktor V. Pohorelsky, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York, issued a warrant for Price’s arrest based on a complaint filed by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. At the time, Price was charged with wire fraud in connection with his use of brokerage accounts in New York to misappropriate millions of dollars belonging to a bank in southern Georgia where Price was a director. A grand jury in Brooklyn later expanded the charges against Price to include securities fraud in connection with Price’s theft of funds from both the bank and other investors in investment funds controlled by Price. The defendant also faces a charge in the Southern District of Georgia.
The arrest was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
According to the indictment, Price managed investment funds PFG LLC (PFG) and the Montgomery Growth Fund (Montgomery Growth). Starting in or about June 2009, PFG raised approximately $40 million from approximately 115 investors from across the nation. Price unsuccessfully invested PFG funds in various equity securities, options, and real estate, including farms in South America. To cover up his losses, Price allegedly lied to his investors by posting fake account statements on a secure PFG website that fraudulently reflected fictitious assets and fabricated investment returns.
The indictment further states that, starting in or about January 2011, Price became a director of Montgomery Bank & Trust (MB&T), a financial institution in Ailey, Georgia. After telling MB&T that he would invest the bank’s capital in U.S. Treasury securities, Price instead lost much of the bank’s money by investing in risky equity securities and options. Price also embezzled MB&T money to pay redemptions to some PFG investors. The indictment charges that Price covered up his embezzlement and losses of MB&T’s funds by giving the bank’s management fabricated documents falsely indicating that approximately $17 million was on deposit in the bank’s name at a large financial services firm in New York.
“Aubrey Lee Price created a life and death out of whole cloth, telling hundreds of investors and a Georgia bank that their money was safe when he was flying high and telling the world he was dead when his lies crashed down around him,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “But Price proved as unsuccessful at faking his own death as he was at faking his victims’ investments. Every person who seeks to harm our financial markets through fraud should be on notice. With the help of our law enforcements partners, both federal and local, we will find you, and we will hold you accountable for your behavior in a court of law.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Atlanta Regional Office, and the Lowndes County Georgia Sheriff’s Department for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation. She also thanked the Glynn County Georgia Sheriff’s Department, who arrested the defendant following a traffic stop.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David C. Woll, Jr. and Brian Morris.
This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopgraud.gov.
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