FBI warrants target possible conspiracy, bribery allegations tied to SBIA

SAN BERNARDINO – The FBI is investigating allegations of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, wire and mail fraud and theft of federal funds in connection with Wednesday’s raid at San Bernardino International Airport, according to a federal search warrant.

Sources who received copies of the warrant on Wednesday and asked not to be identified confirmed the allegations. They also confirmed that investigators are hoping a truckload of documents seized during the raid will show a relationship between airport developer Scot Spencer and San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, airport director Donald L. Rogers, aviation director Bill Ingraham and assistant director Michael Burrows, among others.

Spencer did not return several phone calls seeking comment.
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Boards to address FBI investigation at San Bernardino airport

An emergency joint meeting of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority board and the Inland Valley Development Agency board has been set for Friday to address the FBI’s serving of seven search warrants this week at the airport and the Riverside home of airport developer Scot Spencer.

The meeting was called by Josie Gonzales, who chairs the county Board of Supervisors, co-chairs the Inland Valley Development Agency board, and is a member of the airport authority board.

“I was angry,” Gonzales said. “I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated and angry because here we go again with not being able to get ourselves into positions of leadership and trust.”
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Former Yucca Valley airport manager used embezzled funds to buy property

Prosecutors say a former Yucca Valley airport manager, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges, must cooperate with them about real estate purchases to get the full benefit of his plea bargain.

Richard Paul Demel, who once managed the High Desert airport, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft in a $1.3 million embezzlement case Monday in Joshua Tree Superior Court.

Under the terms of his plea bargain, the 51-year-old Demel will spend four years in state prison, get fined $323,491 and be required to pay the missing money back as restitution when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

But before sentencing, Demel must cooperate with prosecutors to ensure there is marketable title on various properties he purchased with the money, explained Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, in a telephone conversation Monday.

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Former desert airport official pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former Yucca Valley airport official accused of embezzling $1.3 million in state funds pleaded guilty to seven felony counts Monday.

Richard Paul Demel, 51, will spend four years in state prison, get fined $323,491 and be required to pay the missing money back as restitution when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Demel, of Bermuda Dunes and Yucca Valley, applied for a grant from the state Office of Emergency Services to fix damages at the airport caused by thunderstorms in August 2003, prosecutors said.

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