We've all had the fantasy - if only briefly - escape your current life and start over. Well, one Georgia banker went for it. Prosecutors say Aubrey Lee Price, a self-described evangelical businessman faked his own death and left a trail of victims - stealing millions in the process. Not the first person to try this, but now, the jig is up.
Price, who shuffled out of court with shackles and shaggy hair is a far cry from the slick businessman who was riding high a few years ago until he faked his own suicide and vanished.
Why did Price orchestrate such an elaborate hoax? Federal investigators say he had 40 million reasons.
"He's a thief and he's a liar," said Wendy Cross. Cross was one of 115 investors who lost a combined $40 million dollars to Price.
Justin Zegalia, a former business associate says he had no idea Price was losing money in the market and stealing from a bank he took over after infusing it with investor funds. In 2012 the Montgomery Bank & Trust was closed and the money was gone.
"Not just my money, but my dreams, and my future and my freedom - gone," said Cross who lost $300,000 dollars.
One month after writing a bizarre suicide note, Price was seen on a surveillance tape at an airport in Key West, Florida.
A judge declared Price dead, but the FBI didn't buy it - and they issued a $20,000 dollar reward.
"He was planning this exit for a very long time," Cross said, "and he's a very smart, smart individual- it's too bad it was used for such evil."
After 18 months of successfully dodging authorities, he was busted in a routine traffic stop on I-95 in Georgia. The reason? The tinted windows on his vehicle were too dark.
"You become comfortable and you become a little secure in your new identity, and you fail to perceive these types of dangers," said Nick Casale, a former NYPD detective."This officer was smart enough to run him, and then determined he was wanted - and apprehended him."
As for Wendy Cross who lost all the money she had been saving since age 22 - she says this is a great way to start the new year.
If Price is convicted, he could serve 30 years behind bars.
- Society & Culture