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The former chief executive officer of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union has been charged with engaging in a conspiracy that defrauded the credit union out of $15 million, some of which he used to build a home, obtain a luxury suite at Cleveland Browns games, and buy multiple vehicles and firearms.
The former CEO, Alex Spirikaitis, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Spirikaitis personally embezzled about $4.2 million from Taupa between 2001 and 2013, according to the charges.
“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.”
The National Credit Union Administration and the Ohio Department of Commerce took possession of Taupa last July and placed it into receivership due to its insolvency. Taupa had about 1,150 members and assets of approximately $24 million, according to court records.
Prosecutors said that Spirikaitis used the money he embezzled to buy multiple firearms, which he stored at the credit union, and a suite for Cleveland Browns games. They also said that he used Taupa’s money to purchase nine vehicles for himself and his family between 2007 and 2012.
He also used Taupa funds to write 26 checks between November 2011 and November 2012, totaling $1,655,000, to build a home on Liberty Road in Solon, according to the charges.
Prosecutors alleged that Spirikaitis also engaged in a conspiracy with several other people, and their actions led to a loss of approximately $15 million to the credit union and the NCUA. Michael Ruksenas and John Struna previously were charged with participating in the alleged conspiracy.
According to prosecutors, Ruksenas worked as a teller from 1999 through 2006 at Taupa, which was located at 767 East 185th Street in Cleveland. Spirikaitis routinely reviewed the daily share draft report, circled names of certain members listed on the report with NSF checks, and instructed Ruksenas in his capacity as teller to honor and pay the NSF checks Spirikaitis had circled, according to the charges.
The government asserted that after Ruksenas learned Spirikaitis honored overdrafts from certain accounts, he withdrew funds from his two accounts. Spirikaitis then transferred funds from Taupa directly into Ruksenas’ personal accounts to cover Ruksenas’ overdrafts, the government alleged.
Also, Ruksenas worked as a home health aide for one of Spirikaitis’ relatives from 2007 through 2009, during which time Spirikaitis used credit union funds to purchase Ruksenas a Jeep Cherokee, according to the charges.
As a result of that conspiracy, Taupa and the National Credit Union Association (which insures credit unions) lost approximately $481,000, according to the government.
Struna maintained both personal and corporate accounts at Taupa dating back to 1995. He began a conspiracy with Spirikaitis in 2007, during which time Struna overdrew his accounts by approximately $2.5 million, the government alleged.
The government contended that Struna called Spirikaitis about twice a month and requested Spirikaitis’ approval to withdraw additional funds, and that Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts.
As alleged, Spirikaitis caused Taupa to make approximately 38 false and fraudulent wire transfers into Struna’s personal accounts between 2007 and 2013. During that time, Struna repaid only approximately $15,000, according to the charges.
In 2011, Struna allegedly requested and received $112,105 from Spirikaitis for the purchase of a condominium located in Ft. Myers, Florida. In 2012, he allegedly requested and received approximately $100,000 for an investment opportunity. At no time did Struna submit any credit applications or loan documents, according to the charges.
The government asserted that, as a result of that conspiracy, Taupa and the NCUA suffered a loss of approximately $2.5 million.
The charges also allege similar conduct in which Spirikaitis allegedly transferred Taupa funds to cover overdrafts for others who worked at Taupa or had accounts there, including:
- A person identified only as 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 charges.
- A person identified only as G.C. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the charges.
- A person identified only as P.B. withdrew approximately $1 million from accounts for which there were insufficient funds between 2001 and 2013. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the charges.
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