A civil lawsuit filed by Erie Affiliates Inc. claims that Julie A. Spirikaitis – wife of Alex R. Spirikaitis, former president/CEO of the shuttered Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union – was “complicit in the scheme to defraud” the Ohio general contractor out of $505,985.
But Mrs. Spirikaitis, who is divorcing her husband of nearly 20 years, said she was not involved in any fraud scheme, according to court documents. And the NCUA is seeking to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that it interferes with the agency’s liquidation efforts.
Alex Spirikaitis has been charged with making false statements to a credit union for his role in the alleged embezzlement of $10 million to $16 million that led to the Cleveland cooperative’s collapse. He is in federal custody.
Last week, U. S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth McHargh in Cleveland extended an indictment deadline to Jan. 19 to give Spirikaitis and his lawyer more time to conduct pre-indictment negotiations with federal prosecutors.
Erie Affiliates Inc. of Willoughby held $505,985 in an account at Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union. Just a few weeks after the NCUA closed the cooperative on July 12, the company filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland against Julie and Alex Spirikaitis.
The lawsuit claimed Alex Spirikaitis told Erie Affiliates the company’s funds were placed in insured accounts. The suit charges Spirikaitis stole the funds and that his wife “was complicit and acted in concert with Alex Spirikaitis in hiding, spending and using (Erie Affiliates’) money for her own use, pleasure and enjoyment.”
In court papers responding to the Erie Affiliates’ lawsuit, Mrs. Spirikaitis denied “any complicity whatsoever in allegations against Alex Spirikaitis’ use or conversion of funds” of Taupa Lithuanian CU.
However, federal prosecutors said they plan to charge six other individuals in the credit union’s massive fraud case in the coming weeks or months. Former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty Dec. 2 in Cleveland’s U.S. District Court to conspiring to embezzle more than $481,000 and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.
In September, Mrs. Spirikaitis filed for divorce on the grounds of gross neglect of duty, abandonment, and incompatibility. She is caring for their 16-year-old twin boys, one who has been severely disabled by cerebral palsy, according to court documents.
Mrs. Spirikaitis said in court papers that the last time she had any contact with her husband was on July 16, when police and FBI attempted to arrest Spirikaitis at his home that evening. A person at the home told police he was there but would not surrender. For safety reasons, law enforcement officials didn’t enter the house until the morning of July 17, but Spirikaitis was not there and was on the run until Oct. 21 when FBI agents captured him in Cleveland.
As a result of the Erie Affiliates lawsuit, a county judge has granted an order for pre-judgment attachment, which prevents the sale of a home owned by Alex and Julie Spirikaitis before a final ruling is rendered by the court. The house, located in Solon, a suburb of Cleveland, has been valued at $188,000, according to court documents.
Alex and Julie Spirikaitis lived in this home before they moved into a million-dollar house in November 2012. Federal authorities suspect this high-end house, about a mile away from the Spirikaitis’ old house, was built with funds embezzled from the credit union because the former CEO was earning only $50,000 annually, court papers show.
Last month, federal prosecutors took possession of the million-dollar home, which has 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. The home will be sold and most of the proceeds will be distributed to the NCUA.
The Erie Affiliates lawsuit, however, has become more complicated as the NCUA filed court documents in September to dismiss the Erie Affiliaties’ suit on the grounds that it would impede the federal agency’s attempts to liquidate Taupa Lithuanian CU’s estate.
NCUA lawyers are arguing that Erie Affliliates lacks standing to bring claims in its lawsuit because the company has administrative remedies available under the Federal Credit Union Act and that federal regulations preclude the company’s legal action to take the Spirikaitis’ home.
“Erie’s improper attempts to attach valuable assets in this case (i.e. the Spirikaitis’ Sunnywood property) will substantially impede and interfere with the liquidating agent’s ability to administer the liquidation estate of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union,” according to court documents filed by NCUA attorneys.
Erie Affiliates received an NCUA check for the insured amount of $250,000 more than two weeks after Taupa Lithuanian CU had been closed. The company also received a certificate of claim in liquidation” for its uninsured balance of $255,985, which would entitle Erie Affiliates to payouts but only if NCUA recovers sufficient obligations and money.
In early December, the Erie Affiliates lawsuit had been moved from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to U.S. District Court in Cleveland.