Public Nuisance Lawsuit Targeting Houston Social-Poker Clubs Dropped
The last potential legal hurdle to the re-opening of two Houston, Texas social-poker clubs that were raided in May has been removed, with the dropping of a civil “public nuisance” complaint filed against the clubs’ poker activities. Houston’s Prime Social and Post Oak poker clubs, which employed daily membership fees as a workaround to local and state laws forbidding the collection of rake or other game-based fees, appear to have a green light to reopen in the near future.
A few weeks ago, criminal charges previously filed against a combined nine owners and managers of the two clubs were dismissed following the public exposure of a possible legal shakedown engineered by a paid consultant for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which conducted the raids and brought the charges targeting the two clubs. The charges were dropped by DA Kim Ogg’s office, citing a “conflict of interest,” with the circumstances involving the activities of paid consultant Amir Mireskandari now the subject of a separate FBI investigation.
First Assistant Harris County Attorney Robert Soard claimed that dismissing the nuisance complaint didn’t absolve the two clubs of wrongdoing. “These nuisance lawsuits rely on criminal investigations,” Soard said. “If we don’t have a criminal investigation to rely on, it doesn’t make sense as civil lawyers to pursue it in civil court.”
Prime Social, the larger of the two clubs raided in early May, issued its own statement through its spokesperson, Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “While the folks at Prime Social welcome this logical decision, this lawsuit was a joke in the first place, a fake portrait created to justify the corrupt prosecution of Prime Social employees who had not done a thing wrong,” said Dolcefino.. “Lives were destroyed from this injustice, and the financial damage to the club is significant. You haven’t heard the last of this.”
Added Dolcefino, “The last four months is the perfect example of what happens when a corrupt criminal justice system unfairly targets someone.”
Prime Social paid $250,000 to Mireskandari to serve up legislation for Harris County officials that would put Prime Social and other poker clubs on solid legal operating grounds. Instead, Prime Social’s owners learned that Mireskandari did no such lobbying on their behalf, and instead, had a paid relationship with Ogg’s DA office.
In a separate statement, Dolcefino and Prime Social attacked the credibility of Ogg and her DA’s office as they attempt to distance themselves from Mireskandari:
First, Ogg’s office denied Mireskandari was involved in any criminal investigations in public statements. We know that’s false. District Attorney emails involving Mireskandari are being kept secret because they name targets and victims of criminal investigations.
Second, Ogg’s office claims they have none of the written reports Mireskandari was supposed to create under his consulting agreement, but claim the reporting was only required in the contract signed in February 2019.
That’s false too.
In the contract signed with Mireskandari just days after Ogg took office, Mireskandari was supposed to write status reports weekly detailing the hours. He never did it. Even once.
Mireskandari was a big campaign fundraiser for Ogg when she ran for District Attorney and while in office Mireskandari was running political action committees raising money for other Democratic politicians in clear violation of the DA’s own policy.
“These repeated false statements from the office of the District Attorney are disqualifying,” said Dolcefino. “I am saddened to say Ogg must face these questions publicly and honestly or step down. The criminal justice system in Harris County deserves the highest ethics.”
On behalf of Prime Social, Dolcefino also claimed the May raid cost over 100 people their jobs, cost the club tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and much more than that in lost revenue. The club had over 11,000 members at the start of May, and even if the club does reopen soon, it will take some time to rebuild its clientele.