Mike Yassine pleaded guilty on Wednesday to engaging in a tax …
Mike Yassine pleaded guilty on Wednesday to engaging in a tax …
The case against the owners of Yassine Enterprises has had its …
Downtown nightclub owner Mike Yassine was sentenced to more …
When state and federal agencies shut down Yassine Enterprises …
New tenants may soon have a clear path to reopen the old …
Updated: Thursday, 03 May 2012, 4:12 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 02 May 2012, 9:29 AM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Wednesday set an Oct. 1 trial date for several suspects in the March 22 raid on the Sixth Street nightclubs that led to arrests on drug and money-laundering charges.
It was also learned during the afternoon hearing that the Texas Comptroller's Office seized $150,000 in cash and other assets when they conducted a search on April 25.
A special agent from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service testified that in March of this year, Mike Yassine moved an "unknown" amount of money from a Swiss bank account to a Lebanese bank account in the name of his mother. These transactions totaled up to $132,000 over the last several years, he said.
He also testified that the brothers fell behind in liquor sales taxes due the state, which could reach $2.5 million.
Mike Lemoine, an IRS spokesperson, was at Wednesday's hearing, and said he understands why the judge denied the Yassine brothers bail.
"[They] own a lot of people, really has no connection to us and could flee if they felt like it," Lemoine said.
The suspects were arrested in the FBI's drug raid on several Downtown Austin bars connected to Yassine Enterprises.
Wednesday's hearing was officially listed as a "pending matters/status conference."
The father of the Yassine brothers wept briefly as he exchanged looks with Steve Yassine, who sat quietly in his green-striped prison jumper. During a brief break in proceedings, Steve Yassine whispered "be strong" to his dad, who sat nearby in the courtroom.
It was also revealed at the hearing that Karim Faiq, one of the seven charged and out on bail, did not show up in court Wednesday, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The Texas Comptroller's Office seized property at Roial just more than a week ago and changed the locks of five downtown nightclubs owned by the Yassine brothers because of $2 million in unpaid taxes.
Most of that owed money is from sales tax and mixed beverage tax.
"The Comptroller of Public Accounts has seized this property for nonpayment of taxes, penalty or interest due to the State of Texas," the sign said. "It is against the law to enter, dismantle, take possession of or remove anything from this property."
Nearly a dozen people wearing badges -- some of whom wore sidearms -- were inside the building looking at the inventory. One computer was carried out of the building and toward a parked vehicle.
On March 22, authorities raided four downtown nightclubs and arrested at least 10 people on federal charges -- including firearms, money laundering and drug trafficking that allegedly dates back to December 2007.
Hussein Ali Yassine, his two brothers and an executive assistant, all of whom work for him, were in the group arrested in connection to the FBI raid on several Sixth Streets bars between Neches and Trinity streets.
Those arrested included Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine, Mohammed Ali "Steve" Yassine and Hadi Ali Yassine--the three men are brothers. Other Yassine-owned downtown clubs that were raided include:Treasure Island Bar, Kiss & Fly, Pure and Fuel.
Sparks declined to set a bail for Steve Yassine on April 10 and again on Wednesday. Bail was also denied for Mike Yassine on Wednesday Authorities have said they are afraid they'd leave the country. One suspect, Karim Faiq, did not appear in court as required and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Steve Yassine also faces more serious charges of cocaine distribution and transferring a firearm to be used in a crime. Hadi Ali Yassine, the third Yassine brother, is also a money-laundering suspect, but the judge granted him a $25,000 bond.
Mike Yassine is also a “person of interest” in the unsolved homicide of his former business partner – Paresh Patel. Federal agents also told KXAN the Yassines have ties to the militant group Hezbollah and the Texas Syndicate prison gang,
Investigators said in court earlier that Mike Yassine told an informant he wanted to launder between $200,000 and $1 million in drug money through his clubs. They said evidence also includes videos of Steve Yassine and the informant setting up drug deals and gun purchases.
Authorities said Steve Yassine has not filed a tax return in four years, though his attorney has said he was led on by the informant.
People arrested in FBI raid and list of charges
Hussein Ali Yassine, also known as "Mike," 40
Mohammed Ali Yassine, also known as "Steve," "Steve Austin" and "Hammudih," 38
Hadi Ali Yassine, 35
Marisse Marthe Ruales, also known as " Madi," executive assistant to Yassine brothers, 33
Alejandro Melendrez, also known as "Alex" and "Cueta," 42
Amar Thabet Araf, 29
Sami Derder, general manager of Roial, 38
Edgar Orsini, 40
Nizar Hakiki, also known as "Nino," 32
Karim Faiq, 29
U.S. Attorney John Murphy said the arrests were made without incident.
Court documents indicate the accused must turn over a total of $275,050 to federal authorities, money federal authorities said represents property involved in the crimes.
Mike Lemoine, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, said his agency along with TABC, the State Comptroller's Office and federal drug agents were also assisting in the operation. The Austin Police Department helped the FBI in the raid.
Founded in 1996, Yassine Enterprises is owned by Yassine. Its headquarters is located at 213 W. Fourth St.
Venues listed on the Yassine Enterprises website
A lawsuit filed in September over labor laws was upgraded to a class-action suit in January. The suit names Roial, Malaia, Treasure Island, Kiss & Fly, Qua, Spill, and Pure and alleges that the clubs paid employees from tips pooled by the bar and servers without properly paying them their minimum wage salary.
The original suit alleges that the company that owns the clubs, Yassine LLC, did not pay the minimum $2.13 tip credit rate.
Meanwhile, in February, a patron of Qua nightclub filed a suit after an alleged sexual assault by club employees.
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