By Joe Nelson
joe.nelson@ inlandnewspapers.com @SBCountyNow on Twitter
Posted: 04/11/2013 04:24:32 PM PDT
San Bernardino County prosecutors have filed multiple counts of conspiracy and perjury chargers against former airport developer Scot Spencer, left, and investor and co-conspirator Felice G. Luciano, right, in connection with the development of the San Bernardino International Airport and related companies.
In July 2011, San Bernardino County’s grand jury recommended that San Bernardino International Airport officials hire an outside law firm to investigate whether a charter jet lease agreement between former airport developer Scot Spencer and the Democratic National Committee was valid.
But the investigation was never done, and the District Attorney’s Office now says the lease agreement was a sham – a successful effort by Spencer and a business associate to squeeze taxpayers out of more than $1 million.
County prosecutors have charged Spencer, 48, and Felice Luciano, 69, of Tempe, Ariz., with criminal conspiracy in connection with the lease agreement.
Airport officials initially agreed with the grand jury’s recommendation in 2011 to investigate the authenticity of the lease agreement and whether the $1.02 million settlement was justified. The Airport Authority hired several law firms to review the legitimacy of the settlement.
All the firms agreed that Spencer, if his assertions were true and the lease agreement valid, had a legal claim against the Airport Authority.
“They reviewed the facts of the case and concurred that the amount of money in the settlement was reasonable and prudent, and that it was wiser to go to settlement than it would to litigate the matter,” said A.J. Wilson, the airport’s interim executive director.
A month later, in September 2011, FBI agents raided the airport, serving warrants at the administration offices, several hangars and at Spencer’s Riverside home. They sought information on Spencer’s ties to various airport officials and investors and 16 companies Spencer established at the airport during his eight years of occupancy there. They drove away with a U-Haul truck filled floor to ceiling with boxes of documents.
It wasn’t until Donald Rogers, the airport’s then executive director, resigned and Wilson came aboard that an attempt to conduct an investigation into the legitimacy of the lease agreement was made – in January 2012. Wilson said a law firm was selected to conduct the investigation but was never retained, and the investigation never came to fruition.
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