County, Feds charge 2 Men in San Bernardino Airport Scam

SAN BERNARDINO – Officials from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, along with federal officials, released details into last week’s arrest of a former airport developer.

Scot Spencer was arrested in Florida and faces extradition to California

Scot Spencer, 48, and Felice G. “Phil” Luciano have been accused of conspiracy to commit grand theft, along with charges against Spencer that include two counts of perjury and one count of preparing false documents, each filed in San Bernardino Superior Court last Friday. District Attorney Michael Ramos announced the charges, which began with investigations back in 2009, on Monday.

Spencer, who is being held on $1 million bail, was arrested on Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida, while Luciano is still being sought by authorities. County officials hope Spencer will be returned to California soon, though a timeline has not been established. Spencer has previously spent time in federal prison, having been convicted of bankruptcy fraud.

Charges against Spencer stem from business dealings that took place when Spencer was the developer for the San Bernardino International Airport, formerly known as Norton Air Force Base. When the base closed in 1994, the area was economically devastated, leaving a need to shore up the onetime federal air base. When Norton closed thousands of jobs were lost, and  area officials hoped that somehow the base could be rejuvenated through private businesses and investments to return some of the lost jobs to the area.

Millions of dollars have been invested in various airport projects, many of which are legitimate and not under scrutiny. But it was Ramos’ contention that Spencer committed “unconscionable” acts that have led to criminal charges. Luciano was an investor in one of Spencer’s companies. Both men are accused of taking advantage of the hope of a rejuvenated airport by defrauding city and county taxpayers of more than $1 million.

County investigations, along with that of the FBI, included a two-year grand jury investigation last year. The FBI served warrants in September 2011 seeking evidence against Spencer. DA Ramos, who said that further charges could be brought, added that the FBI’s assistance in the investigation was important in the case against both men. Federal charges, according to another official, could also be brought against them.

Felice G. “Phil” Luciano remains at large

In July 2008, officials said Spencer submitted a $1.75 million claim for a hangar lease agreement that is now alleged to be criminally fraudulent. At the time, Spencer claimed that he had booked the hangar for a plane to be leased to officials from the Democratic National Committee. Officials, however, booked the same hangar for another tenant, forcing Spencer to cancel his contract for the jet. In order to avoid a lawsuit, a $1 million settlement was paid to Spencer. The complaint alleges that the lease was “non-existent.”

Luciano’s involvement includes signing the document as a representative of the aviation division that dealt with the Democratic National Committee. Airport officials, who say they never verified the deal due to a non-disclosure agreement, according to Spencer, did not ever see a lease. DNC officials told investigators that they had never heard of Spencer, and never had a contract with him.

If convicted on all counts, each man would face up to five years in prison. Ramos said the county is also seeking restitution and repayment of money taken by Spencer and Luciano.

Read More:

Press Enterprise: Airport developer Scot Spencer arrested

Daily Bulletin: Former SBIA developer Scot Spencer charged with $1.75 million fraud

County, Feds charge 2 Men in San Bernardino Airport Scam was last modified: January 14th, 2019 by admin
Tags: conspiracy, fraud