Former CEO of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union Charged for $15 Million Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 15, 2014|
The former chief executive officer of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union was charged today for engaging in a conspiracy that defrauded the credit union out of $15 million, some of which he used to build a home in Solon, obtain a luxury suite at Cleveland Browns games, and buy multiple vehicles and firearms, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland office.
Alex Spirikaitis, 51, was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Spirikaitis personally embezzled about $4.2 million from Taupa between 2001 and 2013, according to the information.
“This defendant stole millions of dollars from credit union members who entrusted him,” Dettelbach said. “He lived a life of luxury based on stolen money and now he must own up for those actions.”
“Alex Spirikaitis spent more than a decade engaged in corrupt actions before fleeing from the home he purchased with credit union funds and hiding in Collinwood for three and a half months,” Anthony said. “The FBI thanks the public for their patience while the investigation continued and allowed us to bring this fraudster to justice.”
The National Credit Union Administration and the Ohio Department of Commerce took possession of Taupa last July and placed it into receivership due to its insolvency. Taupa had about 1,150 members and assets of approximately $24 million, according to court records.
Spirikaitis used the money he embezzled buy multiple firearms, which he stored at the credit union, and a suite for Cleveland Browns games. He used Taupa’s money to purchase nine vehicles for himself and his family between 2007 and 2012, according to the information.
He also used Taupa funds to write 26 checks between November 2011 and November 2012, totaling $1,655,000, to build a home on Liberty Road in Solon, according to the information.
He also engaged in a conspiracy with several other people, and their actions led to a loss of approximately $15 million to the credit union and NCUA.
Michael Ruksenas, 33, of Naples, Florida, and John Struna, 51, of Concord Township, have previously been charged for their roles in the conspiracy.
Ruksenas worked as a teller from 1999 through 2006 at Taupa, which was located at 767 East 185th Street in Cleveland. Spirikaitis routinely reviewed the daily share draft report, circled names of certain members listed on the report with NSF checks, and instructed Ruksenas in his capacity as teller to honor and pay the NSF checks Spirikaitis had circled, according to the information.
After Ruksenas learned Spirikaitis honored overdrafts from certain accounts, he withdrew funds from his two accounts. Spirikaitis then transferred funds from Taupa directly into Ruksenas’ personal accounts to cover Ruksenas’ overdrafts, according to the information.
Also, Ruksenas worked as a home health aide for one of Spirikaitis’ relatives from 2007 through 2009, during which time Spirikaitis used credit union funds to purchase Ruksenas a Jeep Cherokee, according to the information.
As a result of that conspiracy, Taupa and the National Credit Union Association (which insures credit unions) lost approximately $481,000, according to the information.
Struna maintained both personal and corporate accounts at Taupa dating back to 1995. He began a conspiracy with Spirikaitis in 2007, during which time Struna overdrew his accounts by approximately $2.5 million, according to the information.
Struna called Spirikaitis about twice a month and requested Spirikaitis’ approval to withdraw additional funds. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the information.
Spirikaitis caused Taupa to make approximately 38 false and fraudulent wire transfers into Struna’s personal accounts between 2007 and 2013. During that time, Struna repaid only approximately $15,000, according to the information.
In 2011, Struna requested and received $112,105 from Spirikaitis for the purchase of a condominium located in Ft. Myers, Florida. In 2012, he requested and received approximately $100,000 for an investment opportunity. At no time did Struna submit any credit applications or loan documents, according to the information.
As a result of that conspiracy, Taupa and the NCUA suffered a loss of approximately $2.5 million, according to the information.
The information also details similar conduct in which Spirikaitis transferred Taupa funds to cover overdrafts for others who worked at Taupa or had accounts there.
A person identified only as A.B. worked at Taupa between 1991 and 2013 and withdrew more than $1.3 million for which there were insufficient funds, according to the information.
A person identified only as G.C. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the information.
A person identified only as P.B. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the information.
A person identified only as V.A., who worked at Taupa as a bookkeeper, withdrew approximately $120,000 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds, according to the information.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Derek Kleinmann and Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Patton. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.