Ohio Man Charged Again in Taupa Lithuanian Fraud Case
For the second time this year, federal prosecutors in Cleveland brought felony charges against an Ohio man for allegedly embezzling $2.3 million in a massive fraud case that led to the collapse of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland in July 2013.
John Struna, 51, of the Cleveland suburb of Concord Township, was indicted Wednesday on one count each for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements, according to court documents. He also was indicted on four counts of money laundering.
In January, prosecutors originally charged Struna with only one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union. In a plea deal with prosecutors, Struna was expected to plead guilty. However, the day before a court hearing, he changed his mind and hired new lawyers, according to court documents.
After Struna pleaded not guilty, prosecutors dismissed their charge against him in February saying they needed more time to develop a new case, court documents showed.
In their new seven-count indictment, federal prosecutors charged that Struna allegedly conspired with Alex Spirikaitis, former president/CEO of Taupa Lithuanian CU, from 2002 to 2013.
During that time frame, the former CEO made 46 fraudulent transfers into Struna’s accounts that totaled $2.3 million. Struna did not submit any credit applications or loan documents and repaid only $15,000 of the $2.3 million, according to the indictment.
Spirikaitis pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
He admitted to embezzling $4.2 million from Taupa Lithuanian between 2001 and 2013. With those stolen funds, he built a $1.6 million home in an affluent Cleveland suburb, paid for a stadium luxury suite at Cleveland Browns games and bought nine vehicles.
Spirikaitis is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23.
Earlier this year, former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty to conspiring with Spirikaitis to embezzle more than $481,000 and former bookkeeper Vytas Apanavicius pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement. He admitted to stealing nearly a million dollars from Taupa Lithuanian, with help from Spirikaitis.
In February, Ruksenas was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison. Apanavicius is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 28.
Federal prosecutors said they expect to charge three additional individuals. They have been identified in court documents only by their initials.
The NCUA and the Ohio Department of Commerce took possession of Taupa Lithuanian in July 2013 and placed it into receivership because of insolvency. The Cleveland cooperative served about 1,150 members.
The fraud case caused a $33.5 million loss to NCUSIF, according to the NCUA Office of Inspector General’s material loss report.