Cleveland Man Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Nearly $1 Million from Now-Closed Credit Union
A six-count federal indictment was unsealed today charging a Cleveland man with fraudulently obtaining nearly $1 million from the now-closed St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office.
Joe Spaqi, 60, was arrested Wednesday. He was indicted on four counts of financial institution fraud and two counts of money laundering.
Spaqi aided and abetted credit union chief operating officer Anthony Raguz and a relative identified only as P.S. in a scheme to defraud the credit union between 2005 and 2009. Spaqi did this by requesting loans from the credit union through Raguz. He did not follow established procedures and made false statements to obtain these loans, according to the indictment.
Raguz approved multiple loans to Spaqi, Eclipse Bar and Grill (which Spaqi owned) or Luke Nue (an alias he used) which totaled approximately $965,422. Those monies were paid in checks to Spaqi, Eclipse, Nue, P.S. and unrelated third parties. As a result, the credit union and National Credit Union Administration suffered losses of approximately $965,422, according to the indictment.
Spaqi is also accused of depositing fraudulent loan proceeds from Eclipse Bar and Grill into her personal share accounts, according to the indictment.
The credit union, headquartered in Eastlake, was closed and then liquidated in 2010 after sustaining losses of approximately $170 million, making it one of the largest credit union failures in American history. Nearly 20 people have been convicted of crimes related to fraudulent lending that resulted in the credit union’s failure.
Raguz is currently serving a 14-year federal prison sentence. He is one of nearly 20 people have been convicted of crimes related to St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan and United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach following an investigation by the Cleveland Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, the defendants’ role in the offense and the 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 indictment 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.