News and Press Releases

Concord Twp. Man charged for defrauding credit union out of $2.5 million

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2014

A Concord Township man was charged in federal court for defrauding Cleveland-based Taupa  Lithuanian Credit Union out of $2.5 million, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland office.

John Struna, 51, was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union.

“This defendant is part of a group that took advantage of the trust of hundreds of people for their own personal gain,” Dettelbach said. “These criminal charges should serve as a reminder that there is no such thing as free money.”

“John Struna willfully overdrew his credit union accounts to the tune of $2.5 million through his relationship with a corrupt executive at the credit union,” Anthony said. “The FBI will continue efforts to make sure all the individuals responsible for the collapse of the Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union are held accountable.” 

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.

Credit union CEO Alex Spirikaitis and former teller Michael Ruksenas have previously been charged for their roles in conspiracies related to defrauding the credit union.

Struna maintained both personal and corporate accounts at Taupa dating back to 1995.  He began a conspiracy with Spirikaitis (not charged herein) in 2007, during which time Struna overdrew his accounts by approximately $2.5 million, according to the information.

Struna called Spirikaitis about twice a month and requested Spirikaitis’ approval to withdraw additional funds. Spirikaitis made multiple transfers from Taupa’s internal accounts to cover the overdrafts, according to the information.

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 information.

In 2011, Struna requested and received $112,105 from Spirikaitis for the purchase of a condominium located in Ft. Myers, Florida. In 2012, he 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 information.

As a result of the conspiracy, Taupa and the NCUA suffered a loss of approximately $2.5 million, according to the information.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Derek Kleinmann and Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Patton. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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