She served as the General Sales Manager of pioneering Sports Talker WFAN in New York from January 2006 until August 2014 and, from October 2000 through the end of 2005, was VP/GM of Univision three radio stations serving the market.
Her resume also includes a role as GSM of WAXQ-FM “Q104.3” in New York.
Now, this radio industry veteran is spending the next 15 months in federal prison for using a credit card designated for business expenses for personal use exceeding $300,000 in payments.
Stephanie McNamara Bitis on Friday was sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison facility and has been ordered to pay $302,585.01 in restitution for using a credit card associated with her former role at Long Island Radio Broadcasting in order to pay for various personal expenses.
According to court documents, they include expenses tied to a boat used by her and her family, and for a trip to the Caribbean.
As reported by Newsday, Bitis tearfully apologized for her actions conducted while GM of Top 40 WBEA-FM 101.7, Adult Contemporary WBAZ-FM 102.5 and heritage Adult Alternative WEHM-FM at 92.9 and 96.9 MHz, which serve the Riverhead-Sag Harbor portion of the Nassau-Suffolk region of New York, or Long Island.
The sentencing of Bitis by United States District Judge Gary Brown, following her guilty plea to “felony access device fraud” in November 2020, includes one year of supervised release.
The sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for March 26 but was pushed back to work out restitution.
Bitis ran the Long Island Radio Broadcasting stations from 2015 to 2017.
As reported by Newsday, Bitis read a prepared apology to the court, tearfully reading, “Because of the tremendous mistake I made, 58 years of any good I’ve done has been totally erased and this defines me, your honor. I’m sorry we’re all here. I apologize for the time and expense of everyone involved.”
The daily newspaper also notes that $125,000 of the restitution has been paid, with $52,585.01 going to Long Island Radio Broadcasting; to do so, Newsday says, Bitis mortgaged her home.
As of November 2020, Bitis served as VP/Sales of Dan’s Papers, a Schneps Media local marketing company and newspaper publisher serving the Hamptons and East End communities in Suffolk County, N.Y.
Bitis’ unauthorized charges first came to public light after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York were brought in after an attorney was hired to look into credit card fraud triggered by “a suspicious wire transfer” detected by the owner of Long Island Radio Broadcasting, Lauren Stone. This led Stone to review LIRB’s American Express statements for the preceding six months. The result? Stone noticed several charges that appeared fraudulent.
Outside legal help was brought on by Stone to take a closer look at LIRB’s books. The third-party agency determined that Bitis had placed “hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal charges on LIRB’s corporate American Express card.”
As reported in the Patch newspaper’s Southampton, N.Y., edition, these charges included a family vacation to Aruba, personal visits to the orthodontist, boat maintenance and boat fuel and tax services for delinquent personal income tax payments.
At the time, Stone concluded that McNamara Bitis concealed the fraud by submitting falsified documents to LIRB’s accountant. In fact, the radio industry veteran allegedly created fraudulent American Express statements by removing vendors such as her orthodontist to hide the personal charges, Stone added.
Bitis’ legal representative had acknowledged some level of fraud, but greatly disputed the extent of it.
Following the sentencing, Stone told Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink she’s pleased justice was served.
“Although LIRB is still picking up the pieces of the mess that was left as a result of the defendant’s fraud and embezzlement, we are hopeful that we can overcome these obstacles and continue to serve the needs of Long Island’s East End.”
— Additional reporting by Ed Ryan and Rob Dumke