Taupa Lithuanian Case: Feds Move Forward on Spirikaitis Home Seizure
Federal authorities are moving forward with foreclosing on a suburban home that they claim a former CEO paid for with $1.5 million he allegedly embezzled from the shuttered Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland.
According to court documents, a FBI special agent hand delivered a “notice of complaint for forfeiture” and other foreclosure papers on Aug. 7 to Julie A. Spirikaitis, wife of Alex R. Spirikaitis, the former CEO of TLCU.
He has been wanted by the FBI for nearly a month on charges of embezzlement in the failure of the $23.6 million Cleveland credit union. The cooperative was liquidated July 12 after the NCUA determined the 1,154-member cooperative was insolvent.
Mrs. Spirikaitis is listed as the co-owner of the home, according to Cuyahoga County property records.
The FBI has also posted a foreclosure notice at the home in Solon, about 25 miles southeast of Cleveland. The notice gives Mrs. Spirikaitis about a month to respond to the foreclosure complaint in U.S. District Court in Akron.
In November 2012, Spirikaitis moved into the new home with his wife and their two children, documents show. The construction of the home, which took a year, was first paid for with two checks totaling $100,000 from his TLCU personal account, according to foreclosure documents initially filed last month by federal prosecutors who aim to take legal possession of the home.
“All remaining checks – totaling approximately $1,555,132 – came from Spirikaitis in the form of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union official checks,” court documents state. “While working at the Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union, Spirikaitis never made in excess of $50,000. Spirikaitis did not finance the house construction.”
In court documents, however, federal prosecutors estimated the home is valued at approximately $1 million.
Soon after TLCU was placed into NCUA conservatorship, court documents state that NCUA examiners discovered Spirikaitis had used a software program, “Phantom Font,” to alter his credit union’s deposit statements from the $4.5 billion Corporate One Federal Credit Union of Columbus, Ohio.
Court documents are not clear regarding exactly how much money is missing. As of Jan. 1, 2012, Corporate One’s statement sent to TLCU showed balances of $229,984, $10,000 and $319,574 in three accounts, for a total of $559,468.
However, the authorities said, TLCU’s December 2011 Call Report falsely listed $16,165,288 in assets deposited with correspondent credit unions. The court documents did not reveal if that means $15.6 million is missing, or if TLCU had accounts at other corporates that were left untouched.
The official charge the FBI has brought against Spirikaitis, making false credit institution entries, is an unusual one. Anderson said the charge falls under the embezzlement category, and because it is one that could be quickly proven, FBI officials utilized the charge so authorities could quickly execute an arrest warrant.
Still, Anderson said, authorities did not expect Spirikaitis to pose a flight risk.
The FBI now reports he may flee to Canada and was last seen in Cleveland as well as the suburbs of Solon and neighboring Twinsburg.
The former credit union CEO also may go by the aliases, “Michael R. Hess, Rudy Hess or Richard Spirikaitis,” authorities said.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Spirikaitis is asked to call the Cleveland FBI at (216) 522-1400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.