Prosecutors say developer used SB Airport Authority as a "piggy bank"
San Bernardino County prosecutors have charged an airport developer with conspiracy and perjury.
Authorities arrested Scot Spencer Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida. The San Bernardino International Airport Authority hired Spencer a decade ago to oversee the conversion of Norton Air Force Base into a civilian airport. But conversion costs ballooned from $45 million in 2007 to $200 million, and the airport still has no scheduled flights.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said Spencer and his accomplice, Felice Luciano, used the airport authority as a "piggy bank" to steal $1.2 million.
“Basically, they were creating these different kind of partnerships/corporations, and falsifying documents and falsifying lease agreements, and then turning around and suing the Airport Authority with these false documents and false information,” said Ramos.
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 criminal complaint dated Friday, Spencer submitted a bogus $1.75 million claim to the airport authority 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 met with Luciano in New York City 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.
Ramos said the men’s activities took a devastating blow to the local economy.
“The goal for all of us was to rebuild that base. And we did a pretty good job in developing all of the development around it … but [Spencer] really took away of the passion of people who wanted to rebuild the basin using his position and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.”
Ramos said Luciano remains at large, but authorities have a good idea of where he may be. If convicted, both men could face up to five years in prison.
Spencer is already a convicted felon. He served time in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud.
“We want to hold these people responsible, “said Ramos. “And I’m going to seek restitution and get the money back to the tax payers of this county. “
The FBI and other agencies are helping the district attorney in the investigation.