The former general manager of a Long Island radio station has admitted to making hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal charges on the business account.
Stephanie Bitis, of Sag Harbor, pleaded guilty on Monday, Nov. 16, in federal court to felony access device fraud, according to court documents.
Bitis’ crime carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 15 years, a fine of up to $250,000, and forfeiture of any proceeds from her crime.
The longtime resident and community activist served as Vice President/General Manager of LIRB from 2015 to 2017. She had previously worked at CBS Corporation and was a member of the Sag Harbor School Board.
Following years of lackluster financial results, she was terminated, said Lauren Stone, owner of the radio station.
A suspicious wire transfer caused Stone to review the company’s American Express statements for the preceding six months, she said.
After noticing several charges that appeared fraudulent, Stone engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the radio station’s financials.
The investigation found that Bitis had purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal charges on LIRB’s corporate American Express card, Stone said.
Among other things, Bitis charged a family vacation to Aruba, personal visits to the orthodontist, boat maintenance and boat fuel, and even tax services for delinquent personal income tax payments. Stone said.
She concealed her fraud by submitting falsified documents to LIRB’s accountant. She went so far as to create her own bogus American Express statements, removing vendors such as her orthodontist to hide the personal charges, Stone added.
In October, the government charged Bitis with felony access device fraud.
Bitis is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2021.
“These radio stations are a passion-- a true labor of love for all of us who work here," said Stone. "I was shocked and saddened that someone would do this to us—especially in such a small, tight-knit community. I’m thankful that justice has been served and that she will not be able to defraud anyone else.”
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