Ponzi expert: Price victims could recover funds from FSC, Goldman



ATLANTA - An attorney who specializes in Ponzi schemes said investors ripped off by a Georgia banker who faked his own death could get some of their money back.

Aubrey "Lee" Price is charged in connection with the multi-million dollar investment scheme.

"He did make distributions to some of his investors. The only place that money could have come from was other investors," attorney John Chapman said.

Chapman is based in Cleveland, Ohio, but is representing dozens of Atlanta-based investors.

He said investment schemers like the one Price is suspected of running usually have no money left for victims to recover, but there are other companies involved that do.

"He had help from people in the wings, people wearing suits, people who had a duty to be on the lookout for misconduct and fraud," said Chapman. "We're planning to go after them full board."

Chapman filed a case against FSC Securities Corporation, based on Windy Ridge Parkway in Atlanta.

Price previously worked for the company, along with his associate Justin Zegalia, who Chapman said recruited clients for the scheme while still with FSC.

"FSC should have been on this. They should have told Zegalia, 'This is bad, this is not a legal, proper, lawful investment and you need to get away from it now,'" Chapman said.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer tracked Zegalia down at his McDonough home and asked if he had any inkling that fraudulent behavior was going on.

"None, absolutely none, absolutely none," replied Zegalia, "I was at a distance, I'm in Georgia, he's in Florida."

Chapman said Price's fund was never registered, and was fraudulent from the beginning. Price lost $40 million belonging to more than 100 investors, then sent fake statements to hide it.

Chapman also plans to target Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, where Price deposited tens of millions of dollars. Chapman said investors' money was all mixed together.

"We believe there was an indicia of money laundering that should have tipped off Goldman Sachs and spurred them to action, including investigation and shutting down that account," Chapman said.

Goldman Sachs issued a statement saying, "Mr. Chapman is mistaken. The accounts controlled by Mr. Price were with another broker dealer, for which Goldman Sachs Execution & Clearing, L.P., provided clearing services. We did not have any fiduciary duty toward these accounts."

FSC did not return calls for comment.

Price vanished last month, after leaving confession and suicide notes, saying he would jump from a ferry boat between Key West and Ft. Myers, Florida.

Surveillance photos captured him at the airport and ferry terminal, with a suitcase. Coast guard searches turned up nothing.

"I sure hope they catch that guy and bring him to justice," said Chapman.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Price's arrest.