Spirikaitis Charges Reveal NSF Scheme
Alex R. Spirikaitis, former CEO of the now-shuttered Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union, has been formally charged by prosecutors, who said he and others stole an estimated $15 million, some of which he used 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 that he stored at the cooperative’s office in Cleveland.
He personally embezzled about $4.2 million from Taupa Lithuanian CU between 2001 and 2013, federal prosecutors charge.
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.
“This defendant stole millions of dollars from credit union members who entrusted him,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “He lived a life of luxury based on stolen money and now he must own up for those actions.”
Spirikaitis also conspired with six other people – two who have been charged and four others who have been identified only by their initials, according to a prepared statement from federal prosecutors on Jan. 15.
Michael Ruksenas who worked at Taupa Lithuanian CU 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. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 28. He could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The plea deal also requires Ruksenas to pay restitution of $481,501 to the NCUA.
On Jan. 13, federal prosecutors also charged Taupa Lithuanian CU 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. Spirikaitis made approximately 38 false and fraudulent wire transfers into Struna’s accounts between 2007 and 2013, federal prosecutors charge, for expenditures that included $112,105 from Spirikaitis in 2011 to buy a Fort Myers, Fla. condominium.
This $1.6 million home in the Cleveland suburb of Solon was built with funds that prosecutors now say were stolen from Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union by its CEO.
In their prepared statement, federal prosecutors also described other people only by their initials who they said also allegedly conspired with Spirkaitis to embezzle funds. The former CEO allegedly transferred funds to cover overdrafts for others who worked at Taupa Lithuanian CU or had accounts there.
A.B. worked at Taupa between 1991 and 2013 and withdrew more than $1.3 million for which there were insufficient funds, according to the federal prosecutors.
G.C. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013.
P.B. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013.
V.A., who worked at Taupa Lithuanian CU as a bookkeeper, 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 CU last July and began the process of liquidating the 1,150-member, $24 million institution. Spirikaitis had been a fugitive since July 16 last year until he was nabbed by federal agents while walking on a sidewalk on Cleveland’s east side on Oct. 21. It was later revealed that a large cache of guns and ammunition was found in the credit union’s office. Spirikaitis’ disappearance followed an apparent standoff at his home in the Cleveland suburb of Solon, a property worth more than $1 million that authorities have seized.