A small town banker accused of stealing millions of dollars from investors before faking his own death was also on the hook for a hefty search bill from the U.S. Coast Guard, too.
Georgia law enforcement says that Aubrey Lee Price, 47, was arrested Tuesday in Georgia after being pulled over for illegally tinted windows. When questioned by police for possessing multiple fake I.D.’s, Price admitted to being a former Valdosta, Georgia banker who is wanted by the FBI for stealing $21,000,000 before he faked his own death and took off.
Price was reported missing on June 18, 2012 when family member in George told the Coast Guard they had received a certified letter, believed to be a suicide note from Price, stating that he intended to jump off the Key West Express Ferry in Naples, Florida. The note prompted a Coast Guard search and rescue from Fort Meyers to Key West involving a HC-130 Hercules aircraft and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft.
The Coast Guard says the hoax placed rescuers unnecessarily in harm’s way and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, more than $173,000 to be exact.
The cost of operating a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft is $17,866 per hour and the cost of operating an HC-144 Ocean Sentry Aircraft is $15,354 per hour, the Coast Guard said.
Creating a hoax or making a false distress call is a felony punishable by law. The maximum penalty for making a false distress call is six years in prison, a $5,000 civil fine, a $250,000 criminal fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard.
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