Bob Romanik is suspected of concealing his ownership of radio stations.
Bob Romanik, an ex-con who turned his life around to become a racist radio shock jock, is in trouble with the feds again.
The Federal Communications Commission says its investigation found "significant evidence" that the radio host is the true owner of four metro area radio stations, something they say he has clumsily concealed for years.
Romanik always put someone else's name — his lawyer, his late son, his girlfriend — on the paperwork for the ownership company, Entertainment Media Trust, as it bought up stations KFTK-AM (formerly WQQX-AM), WQQW-AM, KZQZ-AM and KQQZ-AM.
But Romanik has been the face of the stations, where he has distinguished himself in the crowded St. Louis market by repeatedly saying the n-word on air
. He was the one who put up the money for the stations and helped negotiate the deals, according to the FCC.
That kind of maneuvering might sound familiar to anyone tracing Romanik's career path over the past couple of decades
through the gutters of the Metro East. Romanik pleaded guilty in 1999 to federal bank fraud for his straw-man applications to land banks loans for a pair of strip clubs.
He had previously pleaded guilty in a separate case involving an illegal video gambling operation run by former East Side heavyweight Thomas Venezia and politically powerful attorney Amiel Cueto. Federal prosecutors described Romanik as the muscle, installed as Washington Park's police chief by the city's crooked mayor to protect the gambling enterprise.
"They said I lied 150 times to a grand jury," Romanik told the Riverfront Times in 2012
. "I probably lied 600 times. I wasn't going to give up my friend. If you're a man, you don't give up your friends."
That's the kind of thing likely to cause problems with, say, an application to license a radio station or four. Being an ex-con doesn't automatically block people from getting a license, but the FCC notes in Wednesday's filing
that it would have taken a very close look at Romanik's past crimes to determine "whether he has been sufficiently rehabilitated to become a Commission licensee."
The FCC investigation began with a 2012 complaint from St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, who tipped off the commission to the company's suspect ownership. The resulting probe noted that Romanik had described himself as a radio station owner in campaign donation filings.
The FCC also described a history of suspect paperwork. Entertainment Media was reportedly established in 2006 and had agreements with a second company that was in the name of Romanik's son, but the company couldn't or wouldn't provide the standard documents from back then.
Instead, the FCC was told the agreements were "oral" only. Entertainment Media eventually filed some paperwork in 2012 — after Kern's complaint.
The FCC's Media Bureau is now calling Entertainment Media to appear for a hearing on a yet-to-be-determined date in Washington, D.C. If an administrative law judge finds that Romanik scammed his way to radio licenses, those licenses could be cancelled.
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