Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/22/2011 05:10:05 PM PDT
The FBI is investigating allegations of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, theft of federal funds, and wire and mail fraud in connection with Wednesday’s raid at San Bernardino International Airport, according to a federal search warrant.
Sources who received copies of the warrant on Wednesday and asked not to be identified confirmed the allegations.
They also confirmed that investigators are trying to show through documentation a relationship between airport developer Scot Spencer and San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, airport director Donald L. Rogers, aviation director Bill Ingraham and assistant director Michael Burrows, among others.
Investigators also are seeking evidence to show the nature of the relationship between Spencer and former airport director Thomas Harrison and Tiger Enterprises, a South Carolina-based aircraft materials company. In addition, they seek the records of any company owned, operated or affiliated with Spencer, according to the search warrant.
Morris, the only elected official named in the warrant, declined to comment on the investigation. In a written statement, he said the San Bernardino International Airport Authority board may have more to say on the issue at an emergency joint meeting today with the Inland Valley Development Agency board.
Among the evidence being sought to establish fraud or bribery include all documents and materials showing payment of money or other things of value to public officials in exchange for performance of official acts, according to the search warrant.
The FBI served federal warrants Wednesday morning at the Inland Valley Development Agency and the San Bernardino International Airport Authority in San Bernardino, and another at a Riverside residence.
Investigators are also examining campaign finance and conflict of interest forms, e-mails, text messages, notes, as well as applications and other documentation related to the receipt of federal funds by the airport and its governing agencies dating back to Jan. 1, 2003, according to the warrant.
Rogers did not return phone calls Thursday, but released a statement saying his staff is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“We are confident that we have always operated within the law and in the best interests of our member cities, the county and the region,” Rogers said.
Ovidiu Popescu, a Loma Linda councilman who is a member of the SBIAA board, said he couldn’t comment on the allegations, and referred further comment to Karen Feld, the attorney representing the airport.
“I guess my only comment is that I’m surprised,” said Popescu, who received a copy of the warrant on Wednesday.
Feld also declined to comment. She also said a public announcement may be made during today’s emergency meeting of the SBIAA and IVDA boards, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Loma Linda City Hall, 25541 Barton Road.
More than 80 FBI agents served six search warrants at the airport on Wednesday and one search warrant at the gated mansion Spencer rents in Riverside.
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