ATLANTA – After penning a rambling letter to financial regulators and writing notes to his family, a south Georgia bank director boarded a ferry in Key West, Fla., and disappeared.
Now local and federal investigators are trying to determine whether Aubrey Lee Price killed himself, as the lengthy letter — which they’ve described as a confession — would have them believe, or whether he slipped away with $17 million of investors’ money. His family has told authorities they believe he’s dead, but federal investigators aren’t so sure and have offered $20,000 for information leading to his arrest.
“My depression and discouragement have driven me to deep anxiety, fear and shame. I am emotionally overwhelmed and incapable of continuing in this life,” says the confession letter investigators believe was written by Price.
“I created false statements, covered up my losses and deceived and hurt the very people I was trying to help,” the letter says.
Price apologizes at the beginning of the confession for its “lack of structure, grammar and harmony of thought.” Indeed, it wanders from one subject to the next and back again and is sprinkled with grammatical errors and Bible verses. It includes claims that Price is solely responsible for the banking losses; apologies to his clients, associates and partners; claims that banking was never his area of expertise and that he got bad advice; some blame for regulators and other outside forces; repeated mentions of the stress and anxiety he says he has felt for months; and many allusions to his apparent intent to kill himself. The confession also denies that any money was stolen, saying it was all lost through bad investments.
Members of Price’s family and several of his associates mentioned in court documents did not return calls seeking comment. A manager at the bank he directed, which has been purchased by another bank and reopened this week under a different name, said he couldn’t comment, citing the ongoing investigation.