A federal judge has frozen the assets of a Billings mansion owner accused of faking his kidnapping in April so he could run away with his Virginia mistress.
Prosecutors, who suspect Larry Wayne Price Jr. of scamming $17.7 million from unsuspecting investors, secured a restraining order against the 38-year-old businessman Tuesday, blocking Price from accessing accounts at 15 banks in three states, including Montana where he built a 26,000-square-foot mansion in Billings.
Price made national news in May after being charged with lying to the FBI about being abducted by motorcycle gang members in Bluefield, Virginia. His white Mercedes with Montana plates had been found at a park-and-ride. Eventually Price’s mistress came forward explaining that the two had hatched a plan to disappear.
Price has several businesses, ranging from restaurants to real estate, in Virginia and Montana.
Monday, U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen added fraud and money laundering details to the Price saga. Cullen told a Federal District Court Judge in Virginia that Price had taken $17 million from people who believed they were investing in coal mines, or support businesses.
Sometimes Price just pocketed the money, the U.S. attorney alleged. Other times, Price overcharged his investors and kept millions for himself, moving the money through several banks before depositing it in his own personal accounts, often at Rocky Mountain Bank.
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Price’s alleged victims included Three Blind Mice, LLC, comprised of Stephen Casher, a Billings venture capitalist and two Wyoming doctors, Robert Schlidt and Raoul Jourbran. In April, just days after Price’s faked abduction, Three Blind Mice sued Price in Yellowstone County District Court for unpaid debts. On May 7, they claimed the title to Price’s $10.5 million Billings home.
Contracts filed with the Three Blind Mice lawsuit indicate the money was for the purchase of a mine back East, as well as coal equipment that could create solid coal pieces from coal dust. Cullen in federal court documents indicates the equipment was never purchased. The $6.9 million found its way to Price’s personal bank account during seven months of transactions.
“Price never spent the $6.9 million acquired from TBM on a coal upgrading system,” Cullen wrote in his court filing. “Instead, between Oct. 11, 2016, and May 30, 2017, Price knowingly and intentionally spent $6,326,904.78 of the TBM money on an RV and boats, jewelry, building contractors, and a non-mining related business entity owned by Price, cash to a personal associate and various credit card payments.”
Connected to the lawsuit, Price signed a statement saying he knowingly transferred the Three Blind Mice funds to his own business and never spent the money on coal equipment. He then surrendered the title to his Billings castle to TBM.
Casher did not respond to The Gazette’s request for comment Wednesday.
Price’s Montana home, the largest house ever built in Billings, is now for sale. It is a 10-bedroom, 15-bathroom mansion with three outdoor pools and a three-stop elevator on Billings’ far West End near the Ironwood subdivision.
Two other local limited liability corporations, MY Company and P&H Trucking have also sued Price for $6.2 million in unpaid debts, but weren’t included among alleged victims mentioned in Cullen’s filing.
The details of fraud and money laundering were used in a complaint to persuade a judge to restrain Price from spending more money, which he has continued to do, including the posting of a $500,000 bond to get out of jail. Criminal charges have not been added to Price’s indictment for allegedly lying to the FBI about his abduction.