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Restitution Agreement Reached in Fraud Case Involving Former Radio Station Manager

Mon, 05/24/2021 - 16:48

Stephanie McNamara Bitis, a former general manager of Long Island Radio Broadcasting, admitted in November to using a company credit card for more than 600 personal expenses, but it wasn't until last week that her attorney and the assistant United States attorney prosecuting the case agreed on the exact dollar figure involved.

On May 18, assistant U.S. attorney Anthony Bagnuola advised U.S. District Court Judge Gary R. Brown that the parties had agreed that Ms. Bitis, 58, would be responsible for paying $302,585.01 in restitution. "Consistent with the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, the first $52,585.02 will be payable to the victim in this case, the defendant's former employer LRS Radio, L.L.C., with the balance paid to the Granite State Insurance Company," Mr. Bagnuola wrote in a letter to the court.

Ms. Bitis, a former member of the Sag Harbor School Board who is now vice president of sales at Dan's Papers, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of fraud in November and was originally set to be sentenced earlier this spring. Following a meeting on April 26, her attorney, Thomas Kenniff, and Mr. Bagnuola requested an adjournment to work out a dispute over the exact amount in question. Because it is in the range of $250,000 and $550,000, pre-sentencing report guidelines suggest between 24 and 30 months' imprisonment as penalty.

Mr. Bagnuola also wrote after the April 26 meeting that Ms. Bitis was exploring the feasibility of paying off some of the money prior to sentencing. Because she would not be able to do so in time for a scheduled June 7 appearance, both parties asked for the sentencing to be rescheduled for July 23 to allow "additional time to arrange for a prompt restitution payment."

Ms. Bitis was fired in 2017 from her post as general manager of the broadcasting company, which operates WBAZ, WEHM, and WBEA out of Water Mill. In November, she admitted to using the company credit card for such things as orthodontist visits and a vacation to Aruba. Of the over $300,000 in credit card transactions in question, she was able to legitimately explain $17,207; the broadcasting company's losses were $285,377, according to Mr. Bagnuolo, and its legal expenses have added still more to the amount Ms. Bitis will be responsible for repaying.

Mr. Kenniff declined to comment except to say he was "confident the restitution issue will be settled at sentencing, and we look forward to bringing this matter to conclusion."

With reporting by Christine Sampson

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