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CU System Briefs (12/04/2013)
  • NAPLES, Fla. (12/4/13)--A former teller pleaded guilty Monday to a conspiracy to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from his ex-employer, Taupa Lithuanian CU. Michael Ruksenas, 33, of Naples, Fla., admitted in a federal courtroom to participating in a scheme to steal the funds from the now-shuttered credit union (The Plain Dealer Dec. 3). The embezzlement was led by CEO Alex Spirikaitis, who was arrested in October after going into hiding when the credit union was closed by regulators in July (News Now Oct. 22). The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warrant for Spirikaitis' arrest for making "false credit institution entries" after the Cleveland, Ohio-area credit union was shut down by the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions and put into liquidation by the National Credit Union Administration (News Now July 16). Ruksenas, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28 and agreed to pay restitution of $481,000, is cooperating with investigators and said he will testify against alleged co-conspirators as part of a plea deal. Six related indictments are expected, according to federal prosecutors. Spirikaitis is in federal custody. He has been charged with making false statements but has not yet been indicted. At the time of its closure, Taupa Lithuanian had $23.6 million in assets. It had served 1,154 members and was chartered in 1984 to serve the Lithuanian community of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. It was the 11th federally insured credit union to begin the liquidation process in 2013 ...
  • BURLINGTON, Vt. (12/4/13)--The former CEO of the now-defunct Border Lodge CU pleaded guilty to embezzlement at a federal court in Burlington, Vt. (Associated Press Dec. 3). Debra Kinney admitted Monday to stealing money from members' accounts, and agreed to forfeit $250,000. She faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in restitution (Burlington Free Press Dec. 2). Kinney is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. In the plea bargain, U.S. Attorney for Vermont Tristram Coffin agreed to refrain from indicting Kinney on other possible charges and agreed to seek a penalty on the low end of the sentencing guidelines. Kinney was first charged in June with a single count of embezzlement. Court records indicate that Kinney took money from the credit union and deposited it into her account at Passumpsic Savings Bank and in an account for a close friend. A preliminary investigation indicated $207,000 was taken from member accounts between April 4, 2011 and July 12, 2012. Kinney also allegedly took $79,108 from members and funneled it between June 13, 2011 and June 6, 2012 into an account maintained by her and her husband. The FBI and state regulators shut down Border Lodge CU after a court-ordered raid on Nov. 30, 2012, prompted by a tip from an unnamed employee. The credit union's offices were mainly located in the basement of Kinney's home in Derby Line, Vt.--a town that borders Canada. When Border Lodge was shut down, it had about 1,100 members and $3.1 million in assets ...
  • HIGHSTOWN, N.J. (12/4/13)--The charity arm of the New Jersey Credit Union League announced Tuesday that it is participating in AmazonSmile fundraising this year (The Daily Exchange Dec. 3). Shoppers on will be able to direct 0.5% of purchases on eligible products to the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation during the holiday season. The NJCUF is the second state league foundation to become a "charity of choice" through the online retailer this year. The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation became the first when it announced in early November that it joined the AmazonSmile program (News Now Nov. 7) ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/4/13)--Tom Hodge, a Cornerstone Credit Union League executive, died of cancer on Sunday (Cornerstone Leaguer Dec. 3). Most recently senior vice president of strategic business, Hodge first joined Cornerstone in 1987 as a consultant in West Texas. He was promoted to director of consulting services in 1994, a position that saw him supervising league consultants in Dallas. In 1997, he graduated from a league school created to train aspiring executives. Cornerstone said that Hodge was recognized throughout Texas for his expertise in lending, credit union operations, marketing and strategic long range planning. "Tom had been battling cancer for the last five years. He fought hard till the end," Dick Ensweiler, league CEO, noted ...


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