'Dead' banker Aubrey Lee Price sentenced to 30 years in prison after faking own death to escape prosecution

Price pleaded guilty to bank, wire and securities fraud but insisted he was just trying to help his clients

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An American banker who faked his own death to escape prosecution in a multi-million dollar fraud case has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Aubrey Lee Price vanished in summer 2012 after he was accused of embezzlement and securities fraud while he served as director of the Montgomery Bank & Trust.

He was accused of falsifying information, transferring funds to a number of accounts he personally controlled and ultimately losing investors and the bank millions of dollars.

Just days before he disappeared, Price sent family members a letter in which he claimed he was depressed and planned to kill himself "by jumping off a ferry boat".

He was then captured on CCTV boarding a ferry boat in Florida. Authorities declared him dead but the FBI continued to search for him and eventually caught him in a routine stop for a minor traffic violation in Georgia.

 

On Tuesday, Price, who pleaded guilty to bank, wire and securities fraud in June, gave a rambling 40-minute speech blaming the bank's managers and insisted he had tried to protect his clients but ended up making bad investments.

As part of the sentence, Price will have to pay back investors the money they lost, which according to prosecutors, is in the region of $45 million, although the exact sum remains unclear.

However, Price insisted he is as broke as his former clients, prompting concerns that investors won't receive compensation. Prosecutor Brian Rafferty said there is no evidence he pocketed his victims' money.

"The reason he's here is his own arrogance, his own pride prevented him from admitting, then or now, that he just wasn't very good at investing," he added.

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