Cassie MacDuff


Published: 14 December 2011 06:30 PM

The sloppiness in fiscal matters at San Bernardino International Airport extended to the highest levels, a review of billing records revealed.

I requested a year’s worth of invoices submitted by then-Executive Director Donald L. Rogers to see how many hours he spent on the public agency’s work.

Between June 2010 and June 2011, he wasn’t in the office even 20 hours a week most months, while raking in tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars at $165 an hour.

But that wasn’t the shocking part. What was shocking was how many discrepancies I found — and mind you, I have no background in bookkeeping or accounting.

Rogers was a certified public accountant. How could he do such sloppy work?

Hourly billings didn’t add up, subtotals weren’t included in totals, and the amounts the agency paid were not the amounts he invoiced.

How could such errors get past four layers of review?

Each invoice was reviewed by an accounting clerk, Monette Mendoza, who prepared a “request for payment” summarizing how much Rogers was owed.

The forms were signed off by then-chief financial officer Martin Romeo.

Each check to Rogers was signed by two officials, usually Assistant Director Mike Burrows and redevelopment director Alex Estrada.

Gary Silvius, interim finance director, couldn’t explain how the gaffes could have been overlooked.

In some cases, Rogers’ errors were corrected invisibly, because it appears he was paid the correct amount, Silvius said, but the invoices should have been handed back to him for corrections before he was paid.

Rogers’ billings also revealed he had one thing in common with controversial airport developer Scot Spencer: He was often behind in submitting his paperwork.

Rogers would go two or more months without submitting an invoice, and then submit several together.

Five of the checks to him covered payments for two months each.

Another error uncovered by my review — an overpayment to Burrows of $54.01 — was repaid within days of my bringing it to his attention.

Burrows’ expenses also included $124.47 for lunch at Million Air, the luxury jet port. The receipt said Burrows, Aviation Director Bill Ingraham and airport Commissioner Ovi Popescu dined. That’s $41.49 each!

But the paperwork was incomplete. Three others ate, too: a Loma Linda businesswoman and two lawyers supposedly interested in doing business at the airport.

That brought the cost down to $20.75 each, still pretty steep for sandwiches.

I also reviewed 2010 conflict-of-interest forms for the five top agency officials.

Two of them, Rogers and Ingraham, had acquired stock in American Airlines, the company from which the agency bought used jetways, baggage carousels and chairs for the new terminal, after the purchases were made in 2007. (The grand jury had criticized the agency for paying too much.)

Was the stock purchase a conflict of interest after the fact? I didn’t hear back from agency lawyers Wednesday.

Cassie MacDuff can be reached at 951-368-9470 or or