The FBI is taking a hard look at a Las Vegas businessman who almost became Clark County's sheriff. Jerry Airola owns Silver State helicopters, which had thousands of students in several states before it declared bankruptcy and closed its doors earlier this year.More>>
A local helicopter tour company is out of business leaving employees and student pilots out in the cold. Silver State Helicopters has ceased operations. Reporter Chris Saldana has the details of the closure.More>>
There's little doubt that Jerry Airola's company, Silver State Helicopters, has made him a millionaire. But is he really a cop, as he claims? Read on for a link to the letter the I-Team received from Merced County.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:05:13 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- When Randy Kleiner stopped to help an injured driver, he didn't expect to become injured himself. But on Thursday morning, as he was assisting someone who had crashed their car, anotherMore>>
When Randy Kleiner stopped to help an injured driver, he didn't expect to become injured himself.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 9:02 PM EDT2013-05-18 01:02:54 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- A volunteer basketball coach at Shadow Ridge High School has been arrested, Clark County Schools Police Lt. Ken Young said. According to the Clark County Detention Center, the volunteer coach,More>>
A volunteer basketball coach at Shadow Ridge High School has been arrested, Clark County Schools Police Lt. Ken Young said.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:56:00 GMT
LAS VEGAS - Metro Police says a preteen who was assaulted Thursday during an attempted robbery has died. Investigators said the preteen was walking near Charleston Boulevard and Torrey Pines Drive withMore>>
Marcos Arenas, a Bonanza High School student who was assaulted Thursday during an attempted theft, has died, Metro Police said.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:39:56 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Metro Police are investigating two people found dead in an apartment complex near Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway. According to police, the bodies were found around 3 p.m. Friday atMore>>
Metro Police are investigating the deaths of a man and a woman whose bodies were found in an apartment Friday afternoon near Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:17 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:17:28 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Clark County firefighters are responding to reports of an explosion and fire at a facility located at North Las Vegas Boulevard and Sloan Lane. This is a developing story. 8NewsNOW. com willMore>>
One person is reported dead following an explosion and fire at a facility located at North Las Vegas Boulevard and Sloan Lane.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:03:09 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- The theft of iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices is becoming commonplace, earning it the nickname, "Apple-picking," the police said. Bonanza High School student Marcos Arenas died ThursdayMore>>
The theft of iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices is becoming commonplace, earning it the nickname, "Apple-picking," the police said.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 6:42 PM EDT2013-05-17 22:42:38 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- The Federal Election Commission had found that the parents of disgraced former Sen. John Ensign of Nevada made excessive in-kind contributions to a former political action committee staffMore>>
The Federal Election Commission had found that the parents of disgraced former Sen. John Ensign of Nevada made excessive in-kind contributions to a former political action committee staff member.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 6:21 PM EDT2013-05-17 22:21:11 GMT
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The lawyer who unsuccessfully defended O.J. Simpson against armed robbery charges in Las Vegas says his client knew two companions had guns in a 2007 confrontation with memorabilia dealers. MiamiMore>>
The lawyer who unsuccessfully defended O.J. Simpson against armed robbery charges in Las Vegas says his client knew two companions had guns in a 2007 confrontation with memorabilia dealers.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 2:08 PM EDT2013-05-17 18:08:48 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Eight hundred new teachers will head into Clark County classrooms, as the Clark County School board approved its $2.1 billion dollar budget for the 2013-2014 school year. For the first timeMore>>
Eight hundred new teachers will head into Clark County classrooms next year based on the $2.1 billion budget the Clark County school board approved Wednesday night.More>>
A prominent Las Vegas businessman who tried to become Clark County Sheriff is now the focus of a federal investigation. Subpoenas have been issued by a federal Grand Jury for information about the business dealings of Jerry Airola, who sold his helicopter company and left Nevada more than a year ago.
Airola's lawyers insist their client is getting a raw deal.
"I'm not saying Mr. Airola is a victim, I'm saying Mr. Airola is not responsible for the acts they are trying to attribute to him," said attorney George Kelesis.
Kelesis admits he's in a weird spot. He's a close friend and staunch supporter of Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who fought a pitched political battle against Airola in 2006. In the campaign, Airola hammered away at Gillespie and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Now Kelesis and his partners are defending Airola against a rash of lawsuits and a possible federal indictment. "The circumstances are very unique," he said.
Subpoenas issued earlier this month appear to be a broad investigation of Airola's business practices. Kelesis could not confirm this, but believes it to be true.
Airola was the owner of Silver State Helicopters, one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., with chopper pilot schools in several states. The company actively solicited students to sign up for classes, helped them secure financing for the $70,000 tuition and promised to help them find jobs.
On the surface, Airola appeared to be a business wunderkind, "We put together a great program and did what we said we were going to do, and the company became successful."
He used that success as a springboard into politics, spending millions of dollars on his campaign for sheriff. He was touted as a rising political star, but everything unraveled.
Students began complaining the company didn't have enough helicopters or staff to do what it had promised. Many dropped out but were stuck with paying back their loans. Civil suits have been filed against Airola and the company, and last summer, FBI Agents began contacting former students for information.
In 2007, Airola sold most of his stake in the company. Within months, the new owners decided to declare bankruptcy, which left all the remaining students out in the cold.
Kelesis says Airola had nothing to do with it, "That position was opposed to adamantly, vehemently, and loudly by Mr. Airola. He did not want to file bankruptcy. In fact, he objected and voted against it."
Kelesis says Airola had, on his own, worked out a deal with five other helicopter companies so that students could finish their training even after Silver State closed. The new owners told him no, "It was just flat rejected."
What's left of the company is being cannibalized and sold off for pennies on the dollar, Kelesis says, which means the students who are suing won't have much to go after. This time, at least, Airola is not the culprit, "He had no power. He had no say so. He had no authority."
Kelesis adds that the company which bought Silver State spent more than $1 million to investigate it's financial soundness before the purchase was completed and that it was in good shape when Airola ran it.
Airola is now living in Texas where he works as a police officer for a Native American tribe.