ATLANTA – Authorities suspect a former Georgia banker who disappeared 18 months ago and who faces allegations he stole millions from investors was growing marijuana in a home in Florida.
Aubrey Lee Price, 47, turned up earlier this week when he was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 95, in the coastal Georgia city of Brunswick. Price vanished in June 2012 and faces federal charges in Georgia and New York related to accusations he stole millions from the bank he ran and from investors.
When Price disappeared, investigators said he sent a rambling confession letter to his family and acquaintances saying he had lost millions of dollars and planned to kill himself by jumping from a ferry in Florida.
It’s not clear exactly what he has been doing for the past 18 months. He has told authorities he had worked odd jobs and as a migrant worker, and police now believe he was renting a house in Florida and growing marijuana.
A Florida man called authorities Wednesday to report finding marijuana plants in the garage of a home he rented to a man he knew as Jason, according to a police report from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Ocala. Sheriff’s deputies removed 225 marijuana plants, 85 from the garage and 140 more from a mobile home on the property, the report said.
Authorities found a variety of identification documents in the home – including a Social Security card, a passport and Georgia ID – with Price’s photo but a different name and determined Price was renting the home, sheriff’s Capt. James Pogue said. The report named Price as the suspect in the drug investigation, and Pogue said detectives from Marion County plan to travel to Georgia to interview Price.
It wasn’t clear how long the home had been rented, and the owner of the home didn’t immediately return a phone call today from The Associated Press.
Price told authorities his family didn’t know he was still alive and that he had returned to Georgia to renew the tag on his truck, an FBI spokesman said Wednesday.
He was arrested Tuesday on Interstate 95 in the coastal city of Brunswick when Glynn County sheriff’s deputies pulled him over because they believed his window tinting was too dark, Sheriff E. Neal Jump said. During the traffic stop, it became clear to deputies that Price was giving them false information about his identity, Jump said.
Upon further investigation, they determined his true identity and discovered he was wanted by the FBI.
When Price vanished, he had short, blondish hair. When he was arrested, his mug shot showed him with long, dark hair and facial hair.
Federal prosecutors have said Price raised $40 million from his bank and 115 investors, and lost much of the money, and authorities have said they believe Price disappeared with up to $17 million of investors’ money.