Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Silver State Helicopters Trustee Sues Jerry Airola and Steve Pickett

On September 15, 2009, James F. Lisowski, Sr. Chapter 7 Trustee for Silver State Helicopters, LLC ("SSH") and Silver State Services Corporation, filed an Adversary Proceeding Complaint ("The Complaint) against Jerry Airola ("Airola"), Steve Pickett ("Pickett"), First American Equity, LLC ("First American") and Stars & Stripes Heliplex, LLC. The Complaint seeks the avoidance of preferential and fraudulent transfers of assets and the recovery of more than $8,200,000.00 in damages from the defendants based on Claims for Relief for Recovery of Preference, Avoidance of Fraudulent Tranfer, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Unjustment Enrichment and Conversion.

Airola was the President and Founder of SSH. Pickett was the Chief Financial Officer of SSH. Airola and Pickett are the members of Defendant First American and Defendant Stars & Stripes Heliplex, LLC.

The Complaint alleges the fraudulent and preferential transfer of assets from SSH to First American, including the transfer of 1.2 million dollars in cash, a $700,000.00 promissory note, all issued and outstanding shares of Air Excel, a company owned by SSH, and real property located at 500 E. Cheyenne Avenue, North Las Vegas, Nevada, all for no consideration. The Cheyenne Avenue property is alleged to include a private airport, one of the few facilities approved as such in the greater Las Vegas area.

The Complaint further alleges that between April 2007 and August 2007, Airola was paid in excess of ten million dollars pursuant to a "Recapitalization Agreement." During the same period of time, Airola and Pickett caused SSH to enter into a revolving $40,000,000.00 credit line with Orix Commercial Finance LLC. Less than 6 months later, Silver State Helicopters, LLC filed its Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

This action by the Trustee is a good thing for all legitimate creditors of SSH. It may help to bring money back into the SSH bankruptcy estate. Meanwhile, we are all still waiting to see if any governmental agency will bring criminal charges against Airola and Pickett.

One More Week

Final documents are being prepared now regarding the proposed class action settlement between Student Loan Xpress and many of the former Silver State Helicopters students who received loans from Student Loan Xpress to attend Silver State Helicopters schools throughout the country. My best estimate is that these documents will be submitted to the Court on or before October 5, 2009. I will post an update to my blog regarding the terms of the proposed settlement as soon as these documents are filed with the Court.