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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two More Charged in Taupa Lithuanian Fraud Case

Two Ohio men were charged Tuesday for allegedly embezzling nearly $1.9 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, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland.

Gary Chaney, 49, of Streetsboro, and Patrick Bruckman, 58, of Chester Township, both Cleveland suburbs, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union.

Bruckman and Chaney maintained personal accounts at the cooperative, as well as a corporate account for Network Systems Engineering a computer consulting firm they owned, according to the court documents.

These two men and four others including Alex Spirikaitis, Taupa Lithuanian’s former president/CEO, allegedly conspired to defraud the credit union from 2007 through 2013.

The fraud case caused a $33.5 million loss to NCUSIF, according to the NCUA Office of Inspector General’s material loss report.

Bruckman and Chaney allegedly wrote checks drawn on their personal and corporate accounts for which there were insufficient funds, court papers show.

Chaney withdrew approximately $241,000 from his personal account. Bruckman withdrew approximately $63,000 from his personal account. Both collectively withdrew $1.5 million from their corporate accounts for which there were insufficient funds. The total loss to the credit union was $1.8 million, federal prosecutors alleged.

Although Chaney and Bruckman did not have sufficient funds in their accounts to cover their withdrawals, Spirikaitis allowed the overdrafts to clear their accounts. Chaney and Bruckman also never submitted any credit applications or loan documentation for the money they received from Spirikaitis to cover their overdrafts, according to court documents.

Last week, John Struna, 51, of the Cleveland suburb of Concord Township, was indicted for allegedly embezzling $2.3 million from Taupa Lithuanian. He was indicted on one count each for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements. He also was indicted on four counts of money laundering.

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 the 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, according to court documents.

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 expect to charge a former credit union employee who has been identified only by the  initials, A.B., according to court documents.

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.

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