San Bernardino Airport Developers Charged with Corruption
By Jesse B. Gill
The District Attorney’s Office on March 25 filed charges against 48-year-old airport developer Scot Spencer and his 69-year-old investor and alleged co-conspirator Felice Luciano. Both men are accused of conspiring to commit grand theft and presenting false documents to be used as evidence Spencer also faces a count of perjury and preparing false documentary evidence.
Prosecutors say Spencer, a resident of Boca Raton, Florida, is a convicted felon who spent
time in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud. Which is a problem, since he was tasked with redeveloping what used to be known as Norton Air Force Base—the San Bernardino International Airport.
According a complaint filed by prosecutors, Spencer’s attorney submitted a draft claim in July 2008, seeking $1.75 million in compensation. That claim stated (fraudulently, say prosecutors) that Spencer’s company, SBD Airport Services, faxed a letter to the Democratic National Committee, canceling a lease agreement for the use of an undisclosed aircraft, allegedly because the company couldn’t occupy a hangar, which would have been necessary to fulfill that lease.
But prosecutors say that lease DNC never existed in the first place.
Yet he convinced Luciano, a resident of Tempe, Arizona, to sign an aircraft lease agreement with Luciano’s company, Unique Aviation Properties. That company was then supposed to provide the aircraft to the DNC.
In May 2010, Spencer allegedly provided the phony lease to a judge as part of a court order. Prosecutors say he also lied under oath—twice—about his previous criminal history, the allegedly fake aircraft lease agreement and his relationship with Norton Aircraft Maintenance Services.
Prosecutors say he and Luciano took property valued at more than $1 million.
Spencer was arrested the same day the District Attorney’s Office filed its charges. And on Thursday, FBI agents tagged along with a prosecutors’ investigator sent to Boca Raton to extradite Spencer. They brought him back and booked him at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he remains in custody. His bail was set at $1 million.
When District Attorney Michael Ramos announced the charges filed against both men Ramos said neither of them have any ties to the community of San Bernardino County. He claimed both men lived lavishly at the expense of a region that was devastated economically when Norton Air Force Base was shut down in 1994.
“They were brought in to oversee and try to develop (the airport’s redevelopment),” he said. “And what they did is they took the passion of those who wanted to turn it around and used that passion as their own piggy bank.”
Luciano was also booked with bail set at $500,000, but he posted bail Thursday and his now out of custody. He appeared in court that same day and pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. He’s due in court again April 17 for a disposition hearing.
Both Spencer and Luciano face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges against them.