Silver State Helo Criminal Charges Possible
Several state attorneys general are looking into the activities surrounding the bankruptcy of Silver State Helicopters and its founder, Jerry Airola. Silver State, the largest civilian helicopter school in the U.S., closed its doors on February 3 and filed Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy the following day. The school employed 750 people and had 2,500 students and 250 helicopters at 33 locations in 14 states. In its bankruptcy filing, Silver State listed assets of less than $50,000 and debts of between $10 million and $50 million The company had been mired in litigation for a number of years. Students had filed class-action suits alleging Silver State took their money and failed to provide promised training. On February 1, Silver State electronically debited numerous student accounts to zero. Most Silver State students financed their training with student loans from $50,000 to $70,000. Silver State took full payment within six months, even though the training program, which took a student from zero time to certified flight instructor, lasted 18 months. Dan Reed, one of the lead attorneys representing Silver State students, said the drawn-down money was not part of the bankruptcy filing and that the activity is suspicious.