Bankruptcy filings in Sacramento and the Central Valley soared to an all-time high in 2009, up nearly 50 percent from 2008's totals, figures from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento showed Thursday.
In a region battered by recession, plunging home values, foreclosures, state government furloughs and double-digit unemployment, "we're busier than we've ever been," said Richard Heltzel, clerk of the Sacramento-based U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California.
The tally: 45,924 bankruptcy cases filed in the district's federal courthouses in Fresno, Modesto and, the busiest, Sacramento, where nearly 29,000 of the cases were filed.
In 2008, more than 31,000 cases were filed in the Eastern District's courts – a 79 percent jump from the nearly 17,400 cases filed in 2007.
Heltzel is two for two. He predicted his district would break the 30,000-case barrier in 2008 and would eclipse the 40,000-mark in 2009.
But he takes no pride in his predictive powers amid the long losing streak that's gripped the sprawling Eastern District, a 33-county territory that stretches from the Oregon state line to the Tehachapi mountains.
Pacific Ethanol production plants and restaurant businesses owned by developer/entrepreneur Abe Alizadeh were among area companies filing for Chapter 11 protection in 2009.
And the economy has been just as tough on individuals.
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