Bank Director Sends Confession, Disappears

Aubrey Lee Price
Associated Press + More

An associate told an SEC lawyer that since 2009, Price had raised roughly $40 million from about 115 investors, mostly in Georgia and Florida, through the sale of membership interests in his investment firm. He routinely sent investors messages saying the firm, for which he made the investment decisions, consistently had positive returns, the SEC lawsuit says. Price provided monthly account statements to investors that were falsified to hide the fact that millions of dollars were missing, his associate told the SEC.

Wendy Cross moved about $300,000 to Price's firm after a trusted financial adviser told her it would be a good investment. She met Price in person once. She described a very religious, soft-spoken man with a gentle demeanor and an air of kindness.

"He should have won an Oscar for his performance that day," she said. "He has left a path of financial carnage."

The 46-year-old from Atlanta said she discovered something was wrong late last month when she wanted to withdraw some money from the firm to invest in another business. She tried multiple times to contact the firm to withdraw money. When she texted her financial adviser, he responded that he had had no idea what was going on at the company and said he thought Price was still alive despite rumors of his suicide.

Cross said she is shocked and devastated by the loss of her savings. She owns a food truck that sells arepas, stuffed cornmeal patties popular in some Latin American countries, but said she will have to sell the truck because she needs the money to live. She can't afford to hire a lawyer and said she doesn't know what she's going to do next.

Price lived with his wife and children in Bradenton, Fla., but bought a home in Valdosta earlier this year, according to authorities. Price had moved his family to the south Georgia city, where his wife's parents live, just a few weeks before he disappeared. There were financial reasons behind the move, but it also appears Price may have been trying to make things easier on his family once he disappeared, Pritchett said.

Pritchett calls the case interesting and peculiar but wouldn't speculate on whether Price is still alive.

"Until we have a body, it's kind of hard to say," Pritchett said. "It's almost like a novel."

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