Andrew Edwards, Ryan Hagen and Joe Nelson, Staff Witers
Posted: 03/25/2013 08:59:57 AM PDT
Bios: Scot Spencer | Felice Luciano
Photo Gallery: D.A. files charges against Scot Spencer
View: Criminal complaint | Statement from 5th District Supervisor Josie Gonzales | 2010-11 Grand Jury report
Timeline: SBIA and Scot Spencer
Related stories: Grand Jury questions management practices at SBIA
Scot Spencer, the former airline executive and convicted felon who was nonetheless entrusted with leading the development of San Bernardino International Airport, faces five years in prison after being charged with an alleged associate with conspiring to steal more than $1 million in public funds.
It’s the first major development connected to alleged corruption at the airport since FBI agents raided airport offices and Spencer’s Riverside home in September 2011.
“It’s an unconscionable crime – morally, ethically – and now it’s reached to a criminal level, and this office is going to hold them responsible,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said during a Monday news conference at his office.
Spencer, 48, was being held in custody in Florida on Monday after being arrested the previous day in Boca Raton. Ramos’ office has charged Spencer with five felonies, including two counts of conspiracy to commit grand theft. Authorities have also charged another man, Felice G. Luciano, 69, with two conspiracy counts. Luciano was considered a fugitive as of Monday.
The criminal allegations laid out Monday against Spencer and Luciano revolve around what authorities say was a fraudulent $1.75 million claim that Spencer filed against the San Bernardino International Airport Authority in 2008. The authority runs the airport, but its board is made up of elected officials from the region, including from the city and county of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda and Highland.
Prosecutors allege that one of Spencer’s companies, SBD Aircraft Services, falsely reported that the firm on July, 24, 2008, faxed a message to the Democratic National Committee cancelling an aircraft lease because that firm and another Spencer-affiliated enterprise, Norton Aircraft Maintenance Services, could not occupy a necessary hangar at the airport. According to prosecutors, however, Spencer never actually had a lease with the Democratic National Committee. According to a 13-page affidavit, legal counsel to the DNC stated they had no such agreement.
Attempts to reach Spencer and his attorney were unsuccessful as were attempts to reach Luciano.
The criminal complaint alleges that on March 26, 2010, Spencer and Luciano met at the Blue Water Grill in New York City, where Luciano signed a document purporting that SBD Airport Services would lease an aircraft to a company called Unique Aviation Properties to provide the aircraft to the Democratic National Committee by Aug. 23, 2008.
Luciano reportedly signed the document on behalf of Unique Aviation, at Spencer’s encouragement. Spencer signed for SBD Aircraft Services.
Three days after the New York City meeting, Spencer is alleged to have provided a copy of the fraudulent lease agreement in response to a court order.
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