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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Residents in Ailey, GA hoping for closure in embezzlement case

The small city of Ailey, Georgia has a population of 543, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For many years, it only had two banks -- one in Ailey and one in Mount Vernon.

In 2012, residents were shocked to learn Aubrey Lee Price, the director of Montgomery Bank and Trust in Ailey, was accused of embezzling more than $20 million.

"We were all very upset about the situation, of course something like that happening in your backyard, literally your backyard," said Randy Rodgers, Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools.

Rodgers lives on the same street where the bank was located.

"I remember the day that the FDIC arrived, my wife and I actually sat chairs in the backyard and watched the guys coming and going," Rodgers said.

The FDIC shut the bank down.

Meanwhile, FBI agents spent two years searching for Price, whom authorities say had written letters admitting he had lost large sums of investors' money -- along with his plans to commit suicide.

A judge presumed Price dead, but the FBI did not. Last week, he was arrested after a traffic stop in Brunswick, GA.

"The last few days my email has been lighting up," said Rodgers.

Price's capture is now the talk of the town.  Rodgers said he used to bank with Montgomery Bank and Trust, but has since closed his account.

"It was sad to see that many jobs lost. In fact, we are a very very small community, very little industrial development, and any jobs being lost are important," added Rodgers.

A few days after the bank closed, Ameris Bank opened at the same location, but that too closed last November.

Many of the residents who live in Ailey say they work in larger neighboring cities like Vidalia, which is only 10 miles away. Most do their banking there.

"I think there are a lot of people who would like to to see some closure to this," said Rodgers.

Price is expected to appear in Federal Court in Savannah for a bond heading Monday morning.

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