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FBI raids San Bernardino airport agency as part of investigation

Photo: Former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Antoine Biane, who was named in a 29-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, extortion and misappropriation of public funds.Credit: Los Angeles Times The FBI on Wednesday raided the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and Inland Valley Development Agency in San Bernardino, agencies accused of rampant mismanagement and questionable financial oversight in a recent county grand jury investigation.

Both agencies oversee the development of the airport, the old Norton Air Force Base, which was shuttered in 1994 and converted to civilian use.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said federal search warrants were executed in six locations as part of a criminal investigation. Authorities with the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office and state Department of Justice also took part in the raids.

Eimiller declined to provide details about the ongoing investigation and said the search warrants have been sealed by a federal court judge.

Among the findings in the civil grand jury report was that airport developer Scot Spencer received millions of dollars worth of questionable contracts from the airport authority. Spencer is a convicted felon who served time in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud and was banned from the aviation industry by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The investigation is being handled by a special joint corruption task force set up last year because of an abundance of corruption allegations in San Bernardino County. The task force includes the district attorney's office, the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and the California attorney general's office.
The task force has been very busy this year.

Just last week in a separate case, FBI and IRS agents executed nine federal search warrants that appeared to be related to an ongoing public corruption investigation of a Rancho Cucamonga development and its handling by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

In May, former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Antoine Biane and Burum were named in a 29-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, extortion and misappropriation of public funds.
The corruption case involves a $102-million settlement between the county and Colonies Partners in 2006, four years after the developer filed suit challenging the county's easement rights over a flood control basin in the middle of a large retail and housing development in Upland.

And in a third case, a federal grand jury in March indicted former Upland Mayor John Pomierski on extortion and bribery charges in an alleged scheme to extort money and campaign contributions from two businesses seeking city permits and other government approvals.

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-- Phil Willon

Photo: Former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Antoine Biane, who was named in a 29-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, extortion and misappropriation of public funds.Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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