Former banker accused of multimillion-dollar fraud indicted for faking death off the Keys

A former Georgia banker who faked his death to escape felony fraud charges and was last seen in Key West before his capture has been indicted in connection with the faked death.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, of Valdosta, Ga., was charged Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami with communicating a false distress signal, resulting in a massive search by the U.S. Coast Guard. He faces up to six years in prison and the repayment of the search cost, beyond what he faces if convicted in the separate fraud cases.

In June 2012, Price mailed a suicide letter to his family in which he claimed to have jumped off a ferry to his death somewhere off Naples. The vessel had departed from the Key West Ferry Terminal. Price had last been seen at the terminal and Key West International Airport on June 16 that year.

The Coast Guard says the search for Price cost $117,000 based on $17,866 per hour to operate an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Clearwater and $15,354 per hour to run an HC-144 Ocean Sentry plane from Air Station Miami. The search took in the area from Key West to Fort Myers.

On July 11, 2012, Price was federally indicted in Georgia for allegedly embezzling about $17 million from the now-failed Montgomery Bank and Trust in Savannah, Ga. On Jan. 25, 2013, he was indicted in New York on charges of securities and wire fraud.

This past December, Price was arrested in Brunswick, Ga., during a routine traffic stop.