CLEVELAND — Alex Spirikaitis had approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition and multiple semi-automatic weapons stored at Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union when authorities moved in after the Cleveland institution’s collapse.
The now-captured fugitive CEO/president of Taupa Lithuanian CU also apparently knew the FBI was on his tail and was preparing to escape with a “go bag” packed with blank identification cards, cash cards and other personal hygiene items also found in his office, according to a court affidavit that came out of a hearing Tuesday in a Cleveland courtroom.
Although Spirikaitis managed to elude federal authorities for three months, he was captured without incident by FBI agents Monday afternoon walking on a sidewalk in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. Spirikaitis changed his appearance by growing out his hair and shaving his goatee.
On Tuesday morning, he walked into a U.S. District Court in Cleveland with his hands handcuffed behind his back, looking at no one in the crowded court room.
Spirikaitis waived his right to a bond hearing and a preliminary hearing before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kenneth S. McHargh during a 10-minute hearing. The judge informed Spirikaitis that federal prosecutors have charged him with making false statements to a credit union.
Spirikaitis will remain in federal custody while federal prosecutors continue to build their case against him, authorities said.
Although Spirikaitis was officially making a salary of about $50,000 a year, he had recently built a million-dollar home in the Cleveland suburb of Solon. Authorities have since moved to seize the property.
According to a court affidavit, FBI agents in Cleveland began investigating Spirikaitis in June regarding alleged false documentation, bank fraud, wire fraud and other possible federal offenses
When NCUA staff members took over the Taupa Credit Union in July to begin the liquidation process, they found a “Go Bag” in Spirikaitis’ office, which was packed with blank identification cards and other credentials resembling those that are provided to various agents and employees of executive branch agencies such as the FBI.
The bag also contained clean underwear, a razor, a map of a Los Angeles address and a variety of prepaid mobile phone cards, Marriott hotels cards and stored value cards that he could have used basically as cash, according to court documents.
FBI agents believe all these items were packed in the “go bag” to “assist him in an immediate escape from his scheme to defraud at Taupa,” the affidavit states.
Moreover, NCUA staff members called Cleveland police after they discovered the large cache of weapons and ammunition in the credit union’s storage room. Although it is unknown why the weapons and ammunition were stored in the credit union, Spirikaitis does not have an Ohio concealed carry permit, the affidavit said.
The weapons and ammunition are being held by the Cleveland Police Department.
In regards to the charge of making false statements to a credit union, court documents show Spirikaitis received a December 2011 bank statement that showed $229,894, $10,000 and $319,574, for a total of $559,468 in Taupa CU’s accounts with $4.5 billion Corporate One Federal Credit Union in Columbus.
However the December 2011 NCUA Call Report falsely lists $16,165,288 in assets deposited with the correspondent credit union. Spirikaitis certified the December 2011 Call Report on Feb. 16, 2012, the records showed.
Court documents also show that Spirikaitis altered and modified Corporate One bank account statements.
“He printed out numbers he wanted to report to auditors and (to) NCUA and taped them over the real numbers from the true Corporate One bank account statement,” the affidavit states. “Spirikaitis then photocopied the altered documents resulting in a document that mimicked the appearance of a statement coming directly from Corporate One.”
NCUA auditors discovered that Spirikaitis used a software program on his computer identified at “Phantom Font.” That allowed him to electronically download document and then alter them on his computer. That enabled Spirikaitis to electronically download documents and then alter them on his computer. In doing so, Spirkaitis was able to print out a new version with information he input that exactly mirrored the look and style of the original document.
The FBI search for Spirikaitis began on July 16 when local police thought they were in a standoff after arriving at his home in the Cleveland suburb of Solon to arrest him at around 8 p.m. However, when authorities entered the home the next morning, he was not there.
For safety’s sake for the residential neighborhood, police waited until daybreak for tactical teams to move in. Additionally, the size of the large home played a part in the decision to wait until daylight before entering, according to the FBI.
The official charge the FBI has brought against Spirikaitis –making false credit institution entries –falls under the embezzlement category, and because it is one that could be quickly proven, FBI officials have said, they utilized the charge so authorities could quickly execute an arrest warrant.