‘Dead’ Georgia banker accused of defrauding investors ordered held

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(CNN) — A Georgia man accused of embezzling millions of dollars who had been on the lam for a year and a half was ordered held by a federal judge Thursday.

Aubrey Lee Price was in a Brunswick, Georgia, courtroom for about 10 minutes as the judge ordered his temporary detention, according to Candy Asbell, deputy clerk with the U.S. District Court in Brunswick.

Asbell said Price will be back in court Monday in Savannah, Georgia, for a bond hearing. Price is currently facing one charge of bank fraud. If convicted, Price could face 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

CNN’s attempts to reach Price’s attorney, Duston Tapley, have been unsuccessful.

Price, 47, wore shackles around his ankles and was flanked by U.S. marshals during Thursday’s proceedings, according CNN affiliate WAWS.

WAWS also reported that Price told investigators he’s been homeless for the last year and a half.

Yet the sheriff’s office in Marion County, Florida, detailed Thursday on Facebook that Price had been rentingproperty in Ocala — and not just any place, but one stocked with 225 marijuana plants. The property’s owner said the man renting the grow house falsely identified himself as Jason, even though he was in fact Aubrey Lee Price, the sheriff’s office said.

A suicide letter he’d allegedly written to business associates around the time of his disappearance, however, had led many to believe he was dead.

Price was arrested Tuesday and “held for federal authorities on a charge of giving a false name, address or birth date to a law enforcement officer,” according to the Glynn County, Georgia, sheriff’s office website.

The FBI indicated online that Price — whom it characterized as an investment adviser and former minister — had been captured, but the agency’s website didn’t provide further details.

His capture closes a chapter in a law enforcement saga that started at Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey, Georgia, a community of about 430 people, and widened to include parts of Florida, Latin America and the waters that separate them.

A complaint filed in federal court on July 2, 2012, claimed that Price and others “raised approximately $40 million from approximately 115 investors,” mostly in Georgia and Florida, beginning in 2009, then committed fraud at the expense of those investors.

By Graham Winch, HLNtv.com

CNN’s Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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