A model of a gulfstream is on display at the Million Air passenger terminal at the San Bernardino International Airport. (File Photo)
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/02/2012 09:03:55 PM PST
Companies managed by embattled San Bernardino International Airport developer Scot Spencer are being sued for nonpayment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and fuel costs to operate the now defunct Million Air franchise at the airport.
The lawsuits, filed in Texas and Oregon, target Million Air San Bernardino LLC, the franchise Spencer began operating at the airport in 2010, and SBD Properties LLC, which entered into the franchise agreement with Texas-based Million Air Interlink in 2007.
Spencer co-manages SBD Properties with T. Milford Harrison, the airport’s former executive director. The pair are implicated in an FBI probe into allegations of criminal conspiracy, money laundering and fraud at the airport, among other allegations, according to a federal search warrant served in September at the airport.
The pair’s names appear on multiple company filings doing business at the airport, one of which was a filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.
Spencer served more than four years in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud.
Million Air Interlink is a corporate chain that provides fuel and maintenance services to private aircraft at airports. The fuel and maintenance services are provided at stand-alone hangars referred to as fixed-base operators, or FBOs.
Both lawsuits were filed in December by Million Air Interlink and Oregon-based Epic Aviation, respectively.
In the first lawsuit, Million Air Interlink alleges SBD Properties owes it and Rew Investments Inc. roughly $364,700 in fees, plus interest and attorney fees. Rew Investments is another Texas-based company that made improvements to the Million Air FBO and other facilities at the airport.
Last week, Million Air Interlink terminated its franchise agreement with SBD Properties. SBD has until March 23 to find another nationally recognized fixed base operator to franchise with, otherwise the airport will cancel its lease agreement with SBD Properties, said A.J. Wilson, interim executive director of San Bernardino International Airport.
Million Air Interlink has filed a motion for partial summary judgment in Harris County District Court in Texas after SBD properties failed to answer the lawsuit by the Feb. 13 deadline. A judge will hear the motion on March 23.
Spencer’s spokesman, Coby King, said in an email that most of the money at issue is a result of Million Air Interlink’s hiring by SBD Properties to manage the construction of various developments at the airport. The airport consented to the contracts in writing.
“That consent meant that (airport officials) agreed to pay the fees,” King said.
He said that when financing fell through, the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, which oversees the airport, stopped making the payments it owed on the construction fees, then began making payments again in the summer when financing again became available.
“But those payments ceased when (A.J.) Wilson was named interim executive director of the airport,” King said.
He said SBD Properties has sent a series of letters to the Airport Authority demanding the agency meet its obligations under its contracts.
“This is part of a pattern of behavior in which Mr. Wilson has been engaging to interfere with the development and operation of the airport, SBD (Properties) and related companies,” King said.
Wilson said he couldn’t speak to anything that occurred at the airport before he came aboard.
“What I have done since I have arrived is make sure that the agreements between the airport authority and Mr. Spencer’s entities are enforced, and that has been the limits of the actions that I have taken,” Wilson said.
Gregory Propes, the attorney representing Million Air Interlink, did not respond to repeated telephone calls seeking comment.
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