Plea deal awaits Ga. banker who lost clients' $21M

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm •  Published: June 3, 2014

STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) — A former southeast Georgia banker accused of embezzling and losing $21 million of investors' money, then vanishing for 18 months before he was arrested in a traffic stop, has agreed to settle his case with a plea deal, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, of Valdosta left suicide letters when he went missing in June 2012 and was later declared dead by a Florida judge. His time as a fugitive ended on New Year's Eve when a sheriff's deputy in coastal Georgia pulled over a pickup truck and found Price behind the wheel, alive and well.

Price has been jailed in Statesboro since then and was scheduled to stand trial June 23 in U.S. District Court on bank fraud charges. But during a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, prosecutors told a judge that Price has agreed to a plea deal. They expect it to be finalized in court Thursday.

"We have a plea agreement in place," said Brian Rafferty, an assistant U.S. attorney who's the lead prosecutor on the case.

Price's defense attorney, Joshua Lowther, declined to comment. Price previously pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Price misspent, embezzled and lost $21 million and faked financial records to try to cover his tracks before he disappeared two years ago. He sent letters to his family and acquaintances saying he was "incapable of continuing in this life." The Montgomery Bank & Trust, a rural southeast Georgia bank at which Price served as a director since 2010, closed a few weeks after Price vanished. Its assets and reserves were depleted.

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