Local

March 27, 2013

California airport developer charged with conspiracy

The man tasked with developing a former Air Force base into the San Bernardino International Airport has been charged with conspiracy and perjury, prosecutors said March 25.

Scot M. Spencer was arrested in Boca Raton, Fla., March 24 on five felony counts, and an investor and alleged co-conspirator, Felice G. Luciano, remained a fugitive, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said.

Spencer is a felon who served prison time for bankruptcy fraud, the district attorney’s office said. It wasn’t immediately clear if Spencer, who remained in Florida awaiting extradition to California, had retained an attorney.

Authorities want him held on $1 million bail and allege that he and Luciano used the struggling airport as a personal cash fund, taking $1 million for themselves.

“It’s an unconscionable crime,” Ramos said, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Spencer first arrived at the airport in 2003 to operate a charter airline after being awarded no-bid agreements to oversee the conversion of Norton Air Force Base into a civilian airport, the newspaper reported. Costs ballooned from $45 million in 2007 to $200 million, however, and there are still no scheduled flights.

A bankruptcy judge earlier this year ordered Spencer’s SBD Airport Services LLC out of the luxury private pilot terminal and his Norton Property Management Services LLC to leave one of the airport’s largest aircraft hangars. Spencer had filed for bankruptcy to stall his eviction from the airport.

According to the current criminal complaint dated March 22, Spencer submitted a bogus claim to the San Bernardino International Airport Authority for $1.75 million that said SBD Airport Services was forced to cancel an aircraft lease because it wasn’t able to occupy a hangar at the airport.

In March 2010, the complaint states, Spencer traveled to New York City and met with Luciano, where the two signed a fake lease agreement.

Spencer is also accused of lying under oath about his criminal history and his business involvement, and of presenting a false document as evidence.

Spencer has come under scrutiny before.

In 2011, he was the focus of a critical civil grand jury report and an FBI search. The grand jury found that Spencer received millions of dollars’ worth of questionable contracts from the airport authority.

The current investigation was conducted by members of a special multi-agency task force formed in 2010 to investigate corruption in San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

 




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