Alex R. Spirikaitis and his lawyer have been given more time to conduct pre-indictment negotiations with federal prosecutors over Spirikaitis’ role in a massive fraud case that led to the collapse of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland.
The former CEO had been a fugitive since July until he was nabbed by federal agents while walking on a sidewalk on Cleveland’s east side on Oct. 21. He has been charged with making false statements about the credit union’s finances.
Court documents revealed that more than $10 million may have been embezzled from the credit union, which would make it one of the largest fraud cases in credit union history.
Because Spirikaitis waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Oct. 22 in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, his case was bound over to the federal grand jury for an indictment. The grand jury has a Nov. 20 deadline to return an indictment against him.
Federal law requires a federal grand jury to return an indictment within 30 days after a suspect has been arrested and charged.
However, U. S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth S. McHargh approved Spirikaitis’ request to extend the indictment deadline to Dec. 20 in order to “fully explore pre-indictment negotiations with the government,” according to court documents filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
Attorney Darin Thompson, representing Spirikaitis, declined to comment Tuesday.
The 51-year-old Spirikaitis, who allegedly used false financial documents to hide his fraudulent scheme, remains in federal custody after agreeing to waive his right to a bond hearing.
The FBI’s investigation found Spirikaitis received a December 2011 bank statement that showed a total of $559,468 in Taupa CU’s accounts with the $4.5 billion Corporate One Federal Credit Union in Columbus, Ohio.
However, the December 2011 NCUA Call Report falsely lists $16,165,288 in assets deposited with the corporate credit union. Spirikaitis certified the December 2011 Call Report on Feb. 16, 2012, court records showed.
The affidavit also revealed Spirikaitis allegedly 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 stated. “Spirikaitis then photocopied the altered documents resulting in a document that mimicked the appearance of a statement coming directly from Corporate One.”
Court documents revealed that NCUA authorities discovered 10,000 rounds of ammunition and multiple semi-automatic weapons in the credit union’s storage room in July when they seized the institution.
“The Cleveland Police Department responded to a request for assistance and took possession of approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition and multiple semi-automatic weapons that were stored at Taupa,” the affidavit reads. “Spirikaitis does not have a concealed carry permit issued by the state of Ohio.”
What remains a mystery is why Spirikaitis kept these weapons and ammunition in the credit union. Federal prosecutors and the FBI declined comment.
Court documents also detailed how NCUA employees discovered a go bag inside Spirikaitis’ office packed with items indicate he was preparing to flee.
“Inside the bag were a variety of blank identification cards, including one that would allow him to insert his photo and a name identifying himself as a member of the International Union of Journalists,” the court papers stated.
Another document resembling credentials provided to various agents and employees of executive branch agencies such as the FBI were also found in the bag. That document was labeled Special Identification with a seal closely resembling the official seal of the president of the United States of America, the court documents said.
On the evening of July 16, the FBI and local police planned to arrest Spirikaitis at his million-dollar Cleveland suburban home.
Law enforcement authorities thought they were in a standoff after they arrived at his home. However, when they entered the house the next morning, Spirikaitis was not there.
Federal prosecutors have seized Spirikaitis' home, which features an indoor pool, entertainment room, a weight room, an elevator, a handicap track system, five and one-half bathrooms, and a fully equipped upstairs and downstairs kitchen. Federal authorities suspect the house was built with funds embezzled from the credit union as Spirikaitis was earning only $50,000 annually, according to court papers.
Credit union volunteers said they did not know Spirikaitis had built the house.