ASA could become the subject of a criminal probe led by FBI

ASA students celebrating Reny Kozman's b'day, a file photo.
ASA students celebrating Reny Kozman's b'day, a file photo.

American School of Aviation,  already besought with civil lawsuits, could become the subject of a criminal probe led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II has asked the FBI to take a role into the investigation of the American School of Aviation. Morse said the district attorney’s office needs the FBI’s assistance in performing forensic accounting to discover if crimes were committed by Manpreet “Prince” Singh and his wife Reny Kozman, who co-owned the flight school along with partners in India.

“There are a variety of issues involving potential criminal fraud arising from the situation,” Morse wrote in the letter sent to the FBI.

As a matter of course, the FBI will not confirm if they are involved in a criminal investigation.

The students’ tuition fees were supposed to be kept in a trust account and charged as the students progressed through their flight training. A lawsuit filed by 52 of the students in July alleges that Singh directed the tuition directly into his own accounts. It accuses him of fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation. Among the allegations made against the school and Singh is that they continued to recruit students despite knowing they could not provide the instruction as promised.

The students are seeking $2.2 million in refunds and punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed with the Merced County Superior Court, but the papers have not been served upon Singh because he hasn’t been located, according to attorney Palvir Shoker, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students.

A second set of 10 students has filed a similar lawsuit and is seeking $200,000. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Jeffrey Poindexter and claims that the students were directed to a fake ASA Web site where they could ostensibly keep track of how their tuition funds were being deducted. The complaints states: “This accounting system was set up to deceive and mislead the students. As soon as the students would make a tuition payment of $40,000, the defendants would spend all of the money. This allegation is premised upon the fact that the defendants have conceded they owe the refunds, but claim they have no money to pay the refunds…

“By immediately spending the entirety of a student’s tuition, without providing the promised flight training and education, the defendants either purposefully, recklessly or negligently began operating as a sort of ponzi scheme. Each new student’s tuition would go to pay the costs and expense of earlier enrolled students.”

Reny Kozman has previously blamed the school’s financial hardships on partners based in India, who she says stole the school’s money in her email to SecondCity last month.

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American Express Issues Travel Insurance Warning

Travelling abroad on your EHIC alone does not provide you with sufficient cover, the credit card firm has warned.
Travelling abroad on your EHIC alone does not provide you with sufficient cover, the credit card firm has warned.

Many British holidaymakers are neglecting to take out travel insurance – because they believe that their EHIC cards offer them cover instead.

According to research from American Express, 2.3 million travellers who took a trip within the EU over the past year did not take out insurance for this reason. The firm also said that this total had not significantly changed since a similar poll was taken in 2006

Currently, the free cards do not provide holiday cancellation, curtailment or repatriation. Instead, EHIC merely offers holidaymakers free or reduced healthcare in EU countries, in cases of accident, injury or illness.

Chris Rolland, head of American Express Insurance Services, explained: “EHIC cards are solely for emergency medical treatment in Europe and people must make sure that they have independent, quality travel insurance to ensure that they have comprehensive cover to avoid any unwanted financial difficulties.”

He added: “With so many Brits planning a summer holiday in Europe this month, travellers should be careful not to rely on European Health Insurance Cards. They are not a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance so you will not be covered for delays, loss of baggage or cancellations or experience other benefits of having an independent travel insurance policy.”

Mr. Minister, please come forward and do something. UPA Govt. is saved now. part (1)

Since the UPA government has already passed the no confidence motion in Parliament on 22nd July 2008, we hope that our beloved Minister Mr. Vayalar Ravi will come forward to help our sons & daughters which are fighting a lonely war for justice on a foreign soil with very few helping hands. Here is the first Open letter of the series of letters to Mr. Vayalar Ravi from one of the parents whose son is fighting it our all by himself.

Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for overseas affairs
Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for overseas affairs

Respected Mr. Vayalar Ravi,

Let us first introduce ourselves: we are Richard and Juliet Saldanha and our son, Fabian Saldanha, who was enrolled in the American School of Aviation, California where he was clocking flight hours to obtain his private flying license, Engine rating training and a commercial pilot license.

We had paid $40,000 in tuition fees, which was transferred in its entirety to the school at the beginning of the training. With the school shutting down, my child’s future now hangs in the balance.

Fabian has worked very hard in obtaining excellent grades to reach this position in his academic career. After successfully passing his +2 exams with 70% marks from Alva’s Pre-University College, Moodbidri, he finally settled on ASA to pursue his dreams of becoming a pilot one day. But we are sure there are other students like my son who are in a similar situation since ASA closed its doors.

The current plight of the 120 children is very tragic, and concerned school authorities like Mrs. Reny Kozman and the Principal Director Mr Manpreet Singh have all but abandoned their students.

Declaring bankruptcy was the next step in this sorry saga; and while the American courts battle this out, the lives of these 120 children and their future hangs in the balance. For parents like myself, who have worked hard to obtain the sufficient funds in educating our children and seeing their dream fulfilled, this comes as a very hard blow. We have mortgaged our properties and have no sufficient means to transfer Fabian to another school and scrape together another hefty tuition amount.

We implore you, and the concerned authorities to step in and rectify this matter. Maybe the government could help facilitate other aviation schools in the US to absorb these children and allow them to finish their training through a government funded grant. It is only through your networking, support and backing will parents like us be able to find full justice and manage to salvage the hopes and futures of these 120 children.

Yours sincerely,
Richard and Juliet Saldanha
Parents of Fabian Saldanha

America’s very own Bunty & Babli planning an escape to Egypt?

Today I came to know that Prince and Reny have ran to Egypt,I don’t know whether this is true or not . And their house in Atwater is now in fore closure.

America's very own Bunty & Babli escaped to Egypt?
America's very own Bunty & Babli escaped to Egypt?

Well guys don’t worry, Singh and Reny will surely pay for what they have done. Though they have 4.4. Million Dollars but they will never have Peace and Happiness in their life, which we all have or will surely have. As before I have written , though we lost our money but our truth is with us, our God is with us.
Cheating and looting people is in Singh’s blood, but we all know that the wealth earned by cheating someone never last for long, and plus God is always watching everything.
Singh and Reny will surely end up behind bars , but that is not enough,because he will also be punished by GOD and that will be worse for him.

Well keep fighting for justice and never give up because God is with us , though it will take time but at last truth triumphs.

Navdeep, So you say……. “Any updates on this? Is he fixed now?”

His school is SHUT DOWN , His American School Of Aviation has become the biggest SCAM in Aviation Industry , He has become NOTORIOUS ,his family has become NOTORIOUS too, his bad deeds in India and also here have been revealed to the world , there are Records in the Police Station and in DA’s office , His house is in Fore Closure , The victim’s are cursing him , whatever he was doing from 1995 or maybe before that has now come to an end and so on.
If you really love your parents and believe in GOD then you must be knowing the meaning of BLESSINGS and CURSING. Do you know what do we achieve after someone gives us Blessing or someone CURSES us for we doing something wrong ? If yes , then you must know what will Singh and Reny get in return for what they have done.

Do you think this is not at least the START of really “FIXING” him. Hundreds of families have been saved , so what else do you want?
Instead of sitting on ass and letting him loot us and also loot others, we struggled hard to STOP him from doing that.

Do you know Lord Ram , Lord Krishna , Jesus Christ? Have you heard about them.
Well let me tell you , in today’s world people call them as GOD , and you know the history , they had to suffer too. Yes you read it right, they suffered too, they fought for TRUTH and JUSTICE , and now we call them as GOD. If anyone is born or died , its all done by god. God is really watching everything.

So what if we lost our $17,000/ , but at least we didn’t bend our knees and kept quite, but instead we fought , so that Singh should be punished for what he has done.
Well, if God has struggled then who are we???
One day you will get the Update that ” Prince and Reny are finished” …..how and when I will let you know for sure.

I totally agree with Pilot747 , you are Prince or Reny using other names because you have no identity now.

Prince and Reny , one day will come in your life that you will cry for one drop of water and that time people , forget about people even animals will feel ashamed to pee in your mouth.
You will end up very soon……very very soon.

Bhavana.

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California to help ASA students

It seems that help is on its way for the students of the American School of Aviation,  South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA) has offered assistance to the more than 100 stranded students for assessing their legal options to get justice and remain within the U.S.

A press release issued by the South Asian Bar Association confirms the report. “These students have been placed in a really tough situation. They did not receive the opportunity to complete their coursework as promised and have not been assured that refunds will be provided. Many of them do not have permanent housing and some of them are still attempting to transfer to other schools,” said Shaamini Babu, Co-chair of SABA’s Pro Bono Committee, who is working with Ashok Sinha, consul for community affairs at the Consulate General of India in San Francisco, to ascertain the facts of the case and the legal issues that the students are facing.

Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has expressed its wish not to pressurize the students to leave the country upon the expiration of their current visas.

SABA President Khurshid Khoja has asked Merced County District Attorney to bring criminal charges against the owners of the American School of Aviation, a critical move, which will help students obtain U.S. visas for them to remain in the country indefinitely and receive work authorization.

SABA also provided the students with referrals to attorneys in the area willing to take on the civil matter on a contingency basis.

“Our Pro Bono Committee normally doesn’t refer clients to counsel willing to work pro bono unless the public interest is directly implicated. However, in this situation we were able to find SABA members willing to work on contingency because this potential breach of contract renewed our community’s outrage over the exploitation of immigrant South Asians by swindlers, traffickers, and other opportunists who prey on the vulnerable,” said Vid Prabhakaran, SABA Vice President-External.

In this type of contingency arrangement, the attorney receives a percentage of the recovery, only if a recovery is made. In the event that the attorney is unsuccessful, he suffers the costs of bringing the legal action including the costs of filing fees, expert fees, investigation fees, and the attorney’s own legal fees.

Students can contact SABA members and discuss their further plans on below given contact details:

General inquiries about ASA cases should be directed to SABA President Khurshid Khoja via e-mail or mail to:

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
c/o The Chugh Firm
4800 Great America Parkway, Ste 310
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Only chance of recovery of the student’s fees from ASA is……………….

Hello ASA students,

First off, I’d like to express my sincere sympathy for those students stranded by the recent ASA fiasco and wish you all the early arrival of meaningful assistance to alleviate the current enduring hardship. I have no personal stake in this ordeal and neither lost nor gained anything from this occurrence. Nevertheless I can’t stop being indignant about both Prince and Reny of their incompetence and deceit whichever the characterization is appropriate that brought to cause a current plight onto those young aspiring Indian students.

In as much as I’d like to believe that Prince and Reny stashed away a sizable amount of cash somewhere as some still like to speculate or believe and therefore there’s some chance of recovery of their prepaid fees, it pains me to tell you all such chances to exist is literally infinitesimal if not nonexistent.

I know it’s easier said than done but give it a rest on a hope of recovery by a means of law suit. In the Breach of Contract case such as this, you will most likely prevail in the court and obtain a judgment. But think about it, what good is it that the judgment that can collect nothing from the defaulting party. A writ of execution issued from the court is just a useless paper of no value. Remember no one wins in a law suit except lawyers. (been there, done that, fought an airport use permit issue against a county ordinance in the US Federal Court and won the battle but lost the war in the end after consuming 3 years and $150K in legal fees, .a Pyrrhic victory indeed.

Judging from the reported size of operation,(110 students, 43 instructors, 40 aircraft) the monthly operating cost could be anywhere from $225k to $250k/mo. or more to keep that size of operation going. Remember ASA did not have $4.4 mil in a lump sum cash to start with. It’s an accumulative total revenue over the time they were in business. Unless they had an sufficient operating capital set aside which I doubt, their monthly operating expenses were entirely relied on one source; student fees. There’re good months with some surplus fund left and there’re some bad months with an insufficient amount of income even to cover the monthly overhead. It’s highly probable that ASA needed at minimum 4 to 5 new students to keep its doors open. All fees collected from the students were all spent long since and I bet they’re just scraping by from month to month with a hope of someday getting ahead with an arrival of new enrollment group consisting of substantial number of students. Unfortunately, that day never came and the KFA fallout was the last straw. And while they were still at it, the problems started to pile up one after another. It probably started with a minor student’s complain and then rapidly growing to many issues that eventually raised red flags and invited all kinds of government scrutinies from all directions FAA, County’s office, IRS, FTA (Calif. State Franchise Tax Board) and all. Despite less than honorable character references made about both Prince and Reny in many posts, I doubt they had planned this outcome from the beginning. It’s a case of pure incompetence and mismanagement. They had somehow managed to slip their foot in the door and pried open the business opportunity just in time to ride the surging tide of pilot shortages beginning to be faced by the Indian airlines.

Some of you already know about another flight school closure earlier this year which draws some parallels to the events at ASA in the order of far greater magnitude.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_State_Helicopters

Silver State Helicopter (SSH) school headquartered in Las Vegas closed abruptly by filing Chapter 7 leaving 2,500 students out to the street. They operated over 250 helicopters at over 40 schools nationwide in the US. All students prepaid $70,000 each for their training fees. A Class action suit is pending in the Nevada Court and the lawyers are having field days. Good lawyers can compose an opposing lawyer’s argument before composing his own and they are very good and capable indeed and naturally they command high fees most can’t afford.

The only chance of recovery of the student’s fees from ASA is by naming KFA along with banks and lending institutions as co-defendant on the premise that they too are culpable for the damages sustained by those entrusting students. Their failure to perform proper audit and due diligence on the flight school led to the demise of the program today otherwise succeeded. This premise has a much greater chance of succeeding and the judgement amount of $5 mil range plus legal expenses has far more chances of collection from KFA and the Indian lending institutions involved than nonexistent collection probability from the duo Prince and Reny.

Now sit tight and think hard about the good advices offered in the Capt. Kishore’s post and begin to make a check list of your own action plan and proceed to follow thru on it one by one. BTW, make sure to insist on a kind of insurance policy like the one mentioned in the navdeev’s post if you’re fortunate enough to take out another loan again.

Before too long, you’ll be out of the soup and turbulence and you’ll be back cruising in the smooth blue skies again. How do I know this? Well I went through the similar ordeals few times myself since my first arrival in the US in 1968 from Asia and got my ATP, A&P, MEI, AD and few more ratings and pursued my aviation career until my semi-retirement from flight duties few years ago. Well, that’s my two cents. Hang tight and never ever give up your goal.
All the best.

Echo Yankee, Real identity not revealed……

Stranded Indian Medical students in China are being flown home by Air India

Dozens of Indian medical students who have been stranded in China after buying fake air tickets are being flown home, officials from Air India say.

The airline flew 12 of the students back to India on Monday.

Many students returning to India on holiday were left stranded in Beijing and other parts of China after they learnt their tickets were bogus.

Indian papers reported on Monday that the students were allegedly duped by a Bangladeshi travel agent.

The papers said that one of the students had filed a complaint with the Beijing police.

According to a press release by Air India the airline would bring all the students back to India in the next two to three days.

“We have been approached by at least 30 students so far who are being brought back to India on regular flights from Beijing,” said Prasad Rao, spokesman from Air India.

On Sunday Emirates Airways and Malaysian Airlines were reported not to have accepted the students’ e-tickets on the grounds that they were fake. They were prevented from boarding their flights.

Air India says more than 15 students are flying back on Tuesday and a batch of 20 will be put on a flight to India on Wednesday.

Mr Rao said they were giving priority to the stranded students but he said they were helping only those who were coming forward for help.

He clarified that the travel was not free and students were paying $631 (27,000 rupees) each, which is 15% less than the fares charged by other airlines.

Hundreds of Indian students travel to China and Russia to study medicine rather than sit stringent entrance tests in India.

Most of the students were studying in specialized ultrasound school. Being highly demanding carrier, ultrasound school are very much in demand all over the world.