Spirikaitis Charges Reveal Six-Person Fraud Ring
Former Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union CEO Alex R. Spirikaitis was charged Wednesday with conspiracy for his role in defrauding the credit union out of $15 million.
Spirikiaitis used some of those stolen funds to build a $1.6 million home, pay for a luxury suite at Cleveland Browns games, buy nine vehicles and amass an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition he stored at the cooperative’s Cleveland office, according to federal prosecutors.
Spirikaitis, 51, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. His arraignment in U.S. District Court has not yet been scheduled.
He personally embezzled about $4.2 million from Taupa Lithuanian CU between 2001 and 2013, federal prosecutors charge.
“This defendant stole millions of dollars from credit union members who entrusted him,” Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said. “He lived a life of luxury based on stolen money and now he must own up for those actions.”
Spirikaitis also conspired with six people – two that have been charged – and four others who were identified only by their initials, according to a prepared statement from federal prosecutors. Their alleged embezzlement contributed to the total $15 million fraud.
Michael Ruksenas, who worked at Taupa Lithuanian as a teller, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Cleveland in December to conspiring to embezzle more than $481,000 from the failed credit union.
As part of a plea deal, Ruksenas agreed to cooperate with and testify for federal prosecutors.
On Monday, federal prosecutors charged Taupa Lithuanian member John Struna, 51, of the Cleveland suburb of Concord Township, with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union.
Struna, who had personal and corporate accounts, conspired with Spirikaitis to overdraw Struna’s accounts by $2.5 million, according to the federal prosecutors.
In their prepared statement, federal prosecutors also described other people only by their initials who allegedly conspired with Spirkaitis to embezzle funds. The former CEO allegedly transferred funds to cover overdrafts for others who worked at Taupa Lithuanian or had accounts there.
They include two employees and two members, according to federal prosecutors:
- A.B., who worked at Taupa between 1991 and 2013 and withdrew more than $1.3 million, for which there were insufficient funds;
- G.C., who withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013;
- P.B., who withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013; and,
- V.A., who worked at Taupa Lithuanian as a bookkeeper, and withdrew approximately $120,000 from accounts for which there were insufficient funds.
The NCUA and the Ohio Department of Commerce took possession of Taupa Lithuanian last July and placed it into receivership due to its insolvency. Taupa had about 1,150 members and assets of approximately $24 million.