Spencer Uses Corporate Shells To Insinuate Himself Back Into Airport

(March 8) Nearly five months after a federal judge ordered what was widely hailed as Scot Spencer’s departure from San Bernardino International Airport, he appears to have insinuated himself once again into operations at the aerodrome.
Upon the shuttering of Norton Air Force Base in 1994, local officials in their civilian reuse strategy for the property sought to transform it into an international airport. After more than a decade, no success toward that goal was achieved, and in 2007, the board for the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, composed of representatives from the county of San Bernardino and the cities of Colton, Highland, Loma Linda and San Bernardino, hired Spencer, largely on the strength of his status as an airline industry insider, to serve as the contract developer of the base. Spencer was given that assignment despite his 1994 conviction for fraud that ensued after he and financier Jeffrey Chodorow sought to utilize the remaining assets from Braniff International Airways, which went bankrupt in 1982, to create Dallas-based Braniff International Airlines, Inc. Spencer and Chodorow were both convicted of fraud for absconding with $14 million of the company’s funds and Spencer served a four-year prison term from 1995 until 1999 as a result of that conviction.
Spencer had come to the airport authority’s attention when in 2005 he leased from the San Bernardino International Airport Authority the lion’s share of property at the airport, where several companies he was an owner or investor in set up shop.
Under Spencer’s guidance as contract developer, however, the airport fared no better than before in attracting major airlines, despite mammoth increases in taxpayer money spent in that effort. After four years of this hemorrhaging of red ink, the San Bernardino County Grand Jury in 2011 delivered a scathing report concerning Spencer’s mismanagement of the airport. This was followed by an FBI investigation into fraud and embezzlement, which involved a September 2011 raid by the FBI in which agents served search warrants at SBIAA headquarters and the offices of companies controlled by Spencer at the airport as well as his Riverside residence, the Loma Linda home and office of T. Milford Harrison and at the home and business office of Spencer’s father in Florida, seeking evidence of  bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and fraudulent use of federal funds.
Spencer and several of his business associates as well as local officials remain targets of interest in the Justice Department’s examination of the matter.
As the airport’s contract developer between 2007 and 2012, Spencer oversaw the expenditure of hundreds of millions of tax dollars applied to transform the one-time base into a thriving civilian airport.  Spencer’s management of what was supposed to be a $38 million renovation of the airport’s passenger terminal and a $7 million development of its concourse was dogged by cost overruns, boosting the combined cost of the passenger terminal and the concourse to $142 million. No commercial airlines have yet flown out of the airport, despite the completion of those improvements. Instead, Spencer exploited his position at the airport, showing favoritism toward companies he owned or controlled and set up at San Bernardino International Airport, including SBD Aircraft Services, Norton Aviation Maintenance Services, Unique Aviation, San Bernardino Airport Management, SBD Properties LLC, KCP Leasing and Services, SBAM Technics, and SBD Aircraft Services, to the detriment of other aviation-related companies located there. Spencer’s action resulted in decisions by Aeros Aeronautical Systems Corp. and BaySys West, both of which were making substantial lease payments for hangar space at the airport, to leave San Bernardino. Spencer also became a franchisee of the corporate jet-servicing company, Million Air, which was based at San Bernardino International Airport. Million Air terminated its relationship with Spencer last year after the company claimed Spencer had failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars he owed it.
Spencer also formed at least three business partnerships with T. Milford Harrison, who had formerly served as the executive director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and its sister agency, the Inland Valley Development Authority (IVDA), which is dedicated to the development of the property surrounding the airport.
By the summer of 2011, Spencer owed the county of San Bernardino more than $604,000 in unpaid taxes on property and equipment at the airport since 2005 and was in arrears on interest and principal payments on $1.2 million in loans to him through the airport authority.
Don Rogers, a certified public accountant and the founder of one of the Inland Empire’s most prestigious accounting firms, had been the executive director of the airport authority durng most of Spencer’s tenure there. Rogers found himself under fire for his tolerance of Spencer’s depredations. To replace Rogers, board members hired A.J. Wilson, who had previously served as the chief administrative officer of St. Louis, the city manager of Portland, Maine, Santa Ana, Pomona and Norco, as well as the executive director of the St. Louis County Municipal League, the Pomona Valley Educational Foundation, the Western Riverside Council of Governments, and the International Association of Arson Investigators.
Wilson was effective in prying the airport and its operations from Spencer’s grip. Largely on the strength of that accomplishment, the board in November extended Wilson’s contract at least through November of this year, increasing his original annual contract from $315,000 to $351,000.
Under Wilson, the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) reassessed its relationship with Spencer and the airport authority board moved to terminate nearly all of its contracts with Spencer. Simultaneously, the airport authority has placed the effort to woo airlines on a back burner and is now undertaking to market the facility to developers, entrepreneurs, aeronautics and aerospace companies and logistics and transportation service providers.
Spencer maneuvered to resist Wilson, declaring bankruptcy and dragging his feet with regard to vacating the premises he occupied, relying upon the convolutions contained in his leasing arrangements. Wilson utilized close to $500,000 to engage lawyers on the authority’s behalf, succeeding in the legal battle to dislodge him, or so it seemed, when on October 19, Federal Bankruptcy Judge Deborah Saltzman ruled that Spencer and his companies that remained at the airport had to depart in the face of revelations that two Spencer-owned and managed companies are no longer insuring their operations and indemnifying SBIAA. Spencer was forced to surrender his keys to the premises.
Spencer made an outward show of complying with Saltzman’s order, steadily shuttering his company’s operations at the airport until the only vestige of his presence there was repair work on a Boeing 767, owned by EL Management, being carried out by one of his companies, SBAM Technics, at bay 3 in the Hangar 763 complex. Spencer was able to keep SBAM Technics in place by sleight-of-hand. After naming SBAM Technics as the “successor in interest” to two other Spencer-owned concerns, Norton Aircraft Maintenance Services and Southern California Precision Aircraft, he substituted himself out as president of the corporation, and installed Jim Thompson, one of his associates, as president and CEO.
Recently, after FAA inspectors made their rounds at bay 3, SBAM Technics was determined to be deficient with regard to its licensure and was forced to surrender its certificate. The Boeing 767, however, remains on jacks at bay 3.
Into the void stepped Pulsar Aviation Services, Inc., which lacks FAA certification. Despite that lack of certification, the company has been accepted as a tenant at the airport. Pulsar Aviation Services, Inc., was a “shell” company, founded in 2003 by Spencer and Harrison, with Harrison designated the chief corporate officer. In October, Pulsar, which had lain dormant for more than six years with its only point of contact being a perpetually unanswered phone number, became active again as what its operators claimed was a “certified 145 Repair Station.”
Another Spencer corporate entity, Montana-based Aerospace Technologies, Inc., was brought into the mix. Aerospace Technologies, Inc., as another “successor in interest” to SBAM Technics, was sued by EL Management because of SBAM Technics failure to complete the work on the 767, despite the payment of $1.8 million for that work.
While airport authority officials are under the impression that Pulsar Aviation Services is being operated by David Reed, Ted Reed and Tim Reed, the company is actually owned by Spencer and Harrison. Moreover, Pulsar Aviation Services is using the same address, location, tooling and aircraft equipment in its operations that was formerly utilized by SBAM Technics, which is identical in nearly every respect to  Norton Aircraft Maintenance Services before it and Southern California Precision Aircraft before it.
Thus, it appears, Spencer remains active at San Bernardino International Airport.
Mike Harding, an aviation professional with interests at the airport, is the publisher of Airport Watch: SBD, which monthly reports on developments at San Bernardino International Airport.  Harding told the Sentinel that the shell game involving Southern California Precision Aircraft, Norton Aircraft Maintenance Services, SBAM Technics, Pulsar and Aerospace Technologies “is further evidence of Spencer’s and Harrison’s continued corruption of airport activities. It would appear that Scot Spencer, instead of skulking his way out the back door of San Bernardino Airport has instead retained the services of yet another willing front man to move yet another of his corporations in the front door.”
Harding said Spencer was doing his best to get “lost in the corporate shuffle” involving shell corporations he had created with Harrison.
Word this week was that Wilson is currently preparing to seize the Boeing 767 being serviced at bay 3 of Hangar 763 in lieu of the payments to the airport authority which Spencer is in arrears on. Efforts to obtain comment from Wilson were unsuccessful.

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