Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union Case Continues to Unfold
About $10 million to $16 million may have been embezzled from the Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland, which would make it one of the largest credit union fraud cases ever.
While its former CEO is in federal custody and a former teller recently pleaded guilty to embezzlement conspiracy, federal prosecutors expect to charge six other people in the coming weeks or months who were allegedly involved in this massive fraud case that led to the collapse of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union.
On the evening of July 16, the FBI and local police surrounded the million-dollar suburban Cleveland home of CEO Alex R. Spirikaitis to arrest him on fraud charges.
For safety reasons, authorities waited until daybreak to approach the home but found that Spirikaitis somehow managed to elude them.
For the next three months, Spirikaitis was on the run. The FBI issued a public warning, apparently for good reason, that the former CEO could be armed, dangerous and suicidal.
After Spirikaitis was nabbed by FBI agents in October, it was revealed that NCUA auditors found 10,000 rounds of ammunition and multiple semi-automatic weapons in a storage room at the credit union. Although it is unknown why the weapons and ammunition were stored in the credit union, Spirikaitis does not have an Ohio concealed carry permit, according to court records. The weapons and ammunition are being held by the Cleveland Police Department.
Authorities said Spirikaitis 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, which were also found in his office by NCUA auditors.
Although Spirikaitis managed to elude federal authorities for three months, he was captured without incident by FBI agents Oct. 21 walking on a sidewalk in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. Spirikaitis changed his appearance by growing out his hair and shaving his goatee.
Federal prosecutors have charged the former CEO with making false statements to a credit union. He waived his right to a bond hearing and a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
Court documents portray that 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.”
The FBI investigation also has revealed others were involved in the massive fraud case.
Former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty earlier this month in Cleveland’s U.S. District Court to conspiring to embezzle more than $481,000. As part of a plea deal, Ruksenas has agreed to cooperate with and testify for federal prosecutors who indicated at the court hearing that more people are expected to face charges in the massive fraud case.
Ruksenas, 33, conspired with Spirikaitis and “others known or unknown,” according to court documents. Ruksenas and Spirikaitis were stealing funds from the credit union for years and up to just one month before state and federal regulators shuttered the credit union, according to court documents.