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San Bernardino airport developer arrested in corruption case

March 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It wasn't too long ago that San Bernardino County leaders were hoping the underdeveloped San Bernardino International Airport would be an amazing comeback story. They anticipated more than 500,000 passengers would be using the facility by 2013.

Today, not only does the airport sit empty, but the person who was supposed to be in charge of turning the place around is sitting in jail. Scot Spencer is charged with conspiracy and perjury for allegedly stealing more than $1 million in public money.

The troubles at the airport have been well documented. After Norton Air Force Base closed down in the 1990s, county leaders hired Spencer to redevelop the airport.

Not only did many of the projects turn out to be busts, but Spencer was supposed to be working with community leaders. San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said Spencer and his accomplice, Felice Luciano, were actually taking advantage of them.

"What they did is they took the passion of those people that wanted to turn it around and use that passion as their own piggybank," Ramos said.

According to the complaint, Spencer was trying to bilk the county out of $1.75 million as part of a hangar lease cancelation. The lease, however, never existed in the first place.

"It's an unconscionable crime, morally, ethically and now it's reached to a criminal level," Ramos said. "Anybody that has any idea that they want to continue to play this kind of game in this county, we will hold you responsible."

Spencer was arrested in Florida on Sunday. Luciano is a fugitive. If convicted, both men could get five years in state prison.