Aubrey Lee Price (Courtesy of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office)
Did Georgia money manager Aubrey Lee Price commit suicide in shame or skip town with $17 million?
According to the FBI, the 46-year-old disappeared in mid-June "after telling acquaintances that he had lost a large amount of money through trading activities and that he planned to kill himself."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Price told some people he planned to jump to his death off a ferry. The FBI says he was last seen boarding a ferry boat in Key West bound for Fort Myers on June 16. A Coast Guard search has not turned up a body.
Last week, the Department of Justice charged Price with embezzling millions from a small southern Georgia bank he took over in December 2010.
"The complaint alleges that, instead of investing the money as promised, Price fraudulently wired the bank's funds to accounts that he personally controlled at other financial institutions and provided bank management with altered documents to make it appear as if he had invested the bank's money in Treasury securities," the justice department said in a statement.
But in the alleged suicide note obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Price maintained he did nothing illegal.
"I hid many things fraudulently and deceptively, to try and give myself more time to pull some positive returns together," the note said. "To be clear, nothing has been taken, only lost through stressful periods of trading a bad investments ... I am emotionally overwhelmed and incapable of continuing in this life."
The FBI believes Price may own real estate in Venezuela and Guatemala. They are asking for the public's help in solving the mystery.
Wendy Cross, an Atlanta woman who reportedly lost $364,000 in the alleged scheme, says Price is fooling folks again.
"I don't believe he's dead. I believe he planned for this exit," Cross told the Atlanta newspaper.
"This guy," she said, "was the best actor."