A civil lawsuit filed against two social poker clubs in Houston, Texas has now been dropped. This means business is set to return as normal at Poker Social and Post Oak, with the final potential legal barrier to their re-opening now being removed.
Poker Social and Post Oak were raided in May by officers from the Vice Division of the Houston Police Department for alleged illegal poker activities. Nine owners and managers between the two establishments were arrested and charged with money laundering and engaging in organized criminal activity.
However, less than a month ago, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg dismissed criminal charges previously filed against the clubs’ owners and managers after it was exposed that Ogg’s former consultant Amir Mireskandari and his associates were paid $250,000 by Prime Social in exchange for the passage of city gambling ordinances that would give legal protection to their operations. But these ordinances were never officially drafted, with the club owners claiming they were duped by the city officials.
Ogg dropped the charges due to conflict of interest, with Mireskandari’s activities now being investigated separately by the FBI.
No Basis For Civil Lawsuit
First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard stated that with the criminal charges being dropped, there is no basis for a civil lawsuit against the two poker clubs. Soar said that there must be a criminal investigation to rely on if public nuisance lawsuits are to be filed against the accused parties. In the absence of a criminal investigation, a civil lawsuit is meaningless. That being said, although the public nuisance complaint was dropped, it did not acquit the clubs of wrongdoing. Soard added he would re-file the suits once adequate evidence is established.
Consultant for Prime Social Club Wayne Dolcefino who has maintained from the start that all charges were baseless, said the lawsuit was a joke. In a statement to local media outlets on behalf of Prime Social, Dolcefino said Prime Social employees were wrongly accused and had become victims of a tainted justice system. The club is reported to have suffered from massive financial damage due to this injustice, with dozens of employees becoming jobless as a result.
After the raids in May, no further poker social clubs have been raided and no individuals have been arrested in relation to illegal poker operations. This according to Dolcefino is a perfect example of a disreputable criminal justice system that unfairly targets someone.
Ogg and DA’s Office Credibility in Question
Prime Social paid Mireskandari $250,000 to lobby Harris County officials on putting Prime Social and several other poker clubs on stable legal operating grounds. However, the club’s owners later found out that Mireskandari did not fulfill his promise and was actually employed by Ogg’s DA office during the time he accepted the payment from Prime Social.
When the controversy went public, Ogg’s office publicly denied Mireskandari’s involvement in any criminal investigations, which Prime Social claimed was false as the District Attorney’s emails in relation to Mireskandari were being kept confidential. Prime Social claimed that Ogg’s office also lied when it said it did not receive any written reports from Mireskandari as part of his consultancy job.
The club also alleged that Mireskandari served as major campaign fundraiser for Ogg when she ran for District Attorney and was involved in raising money for other Democratic politicians, a clear breach of the DA’s own policy. Dolcefino said the repeated false statements from Ogg’s office are disqualifying, and that Ogg must honestly face these questions of just quit her post.
As a result of the raid in May, more than a hundred people lost their jobs and Prime Social was forced to shell out tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, add to that the significant amount of revenue lost due to the establishment’s closure.
The state seized a total of $206,000 from both poker rooms during the raids. The state is now in the process of returning them to the two poker rooms. Prime Social had over 11,000 members prior to the raid. While it is free to resume its operations anytime soon, the poker club will now take some time before it can rebuild its lost clientele.

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