Former Long Island Radio Station Manager Pleads Guilty to Credit Card Fraud
New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) August 2, 2021 – The former general manager of a Long Island radio station admitted to using a company credit card to defraud her employer out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Stephanie Bitis, 58, pleaded guilty to a single count of felony access device fraud in federal court. The access device in the case was a credit card that belonged to Long Island Radio Broadcasting. Federal prosecutors claimed she made more than $250,000 in personal purchases on the business account, including an overseas family vacation, personal orthodontist appointments, boat maintenance and tax services.
“Criminal charges in such cases often arise from disputes over business and personal expenses,” commented Peter Brill, a Long Island criminal defense lawyer with Brill Legal Group, who is not involved with the case. “Anyone who has been accused of credit card fraud should consult a criminal defense attorney right away about the possibility of fighting the harsh penalties that come with this type of felony offense.”
Bitis started working as vice president and general manager at Long Island Radio Broadcasting in September 2015. Lauren Stone, the radio station’s owner, said Bitis was terminated in November 2017 due to unsatisfactory financial results.
Stone went over the company’s American Express statements after noticing an unusual wire transfer and several suspicious charges. Stone then hired an outside law firm to investigate the radio station’s finances. The law firm found that Bitis had made multiple fraudulent charges on the corporate credit card. She hid the unauthorized charges by submitting false records to accountants.
The maximum prison sentence for the felony access device fraud charge is 15 years. However, Bitis is facing between 12 to 18 months in prison because she has no known criminal history. Other penalties include a fine of up to $250,000 and forfeiture of any criminal proceeds.
The crime was prosecuted federally as Bitis made an international purchase and sent falsified documents to accountants in other states besides New York. Her arraignment occurred over a video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bitis was released on her own recognizance. Her sentencing was scheduled for March 2021.
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