AUSTIN (KXAN) - The second day of testimony in the trial against the Yassine brothers ended just before 4 p.m. when presiding Judge Sam Sparks -- upset with the attorneys from both sides -- sent the jury home for the night.
The defense had more than 160 objections to the recording transcriptions presented as evidence, and Sparks said this should have already been worked out between them.
The attorneys are expected to stay late to work out their differences over the transcriptions.
Mo Yassine was due to take the stand Tuesday afternoon. However, his testimony will have to wait until Wednesday morning.
The day began with the defense team cross-examining an FBI agent who was put on the stand Monday, a questioning that included attacks on the character of the agency's confidential informant in this case, Mo Yassine.
The agent was the first witness to give testimony in Day 1 of the money laundering and drug trafficking case against brothers Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine, Mohammad Ali "Steve" Yassine and Hadi Ali Yassine.
The focus of Tuesday morning's testimony was discussing the use of Mohammad "Mo" Yassine as a confidential informant.
A cousin to the Yassine brothers in question, he reportedly helped the FBI get video and audio recordings from inside Yassine Enterprises -- the company with an empire of Downtown Austin bars and nightclubs shut down since a drug raid in March.
The FBI approached Mohammad "Mo" Yassine in 2007 while he lived in Colorado. Since that time, he has been paid thousands of dollars to help the FBI investigate and bring money laundering charges against his three cousins.
According to testimony, the FBI knew Mo Yassine had minor drug charges against him and had some kind of falling out with Mike Yassine.
Yassine Enterprises reportedly fired Mo Yassine in December 2004. He had also reportedly owned a bar named Rehab in Austin.
According to documents, Mo suggested that revenge against the Yassine brothers was motivation to help the FBI in its investigation. His move paid for by the government, he relocated to Austin in 2007.
Mo has been paid $233,000 for work with the FBI, in addition to the government spending $111,000 moving him and his family back to Austin.
During his time working with the FBI, Mo Yassine did cocaine during a drug transaction -- something he wasn't supposed to do.
Testimony Tuesday also revealed that the FBI implemented random drug-testing for him, of which he failed two tests. In addition, he also allegedly lied about the reason for missing another test.
The FBI had Mo Yassine buy drugs from dealers to build "street credibility."
Meanwhile, he reportedly has not been employed since moving to Austin despite the government urging him to find a job. Instead, he has been living off the government money paid to him.
An FBI report said Mo Yassine was "not reliable and could not be counted on."
And on four instances, the defense revealed that Mo Yassine laundered money at Yassine Enterprises -- a sum totaling around $214,000. He was able to get his foot back in the door with Yassine Enterprises through Steve Yassine, whom he was still friendly with.
Day 1 of trial
The trial began shortly after jury selection Monday, which took less than three hours to seat. The trial opened just after 3 p.m. with the first witness, an FBI agent.
During opening statements Monday, the government said they wired Mo Yassine and recorded hours of conversations he had with the Yassine brothers.
Video surveillance played for the jury also showed Mo Yassine taking part in controlled drug deals.
The government alleges the drug money was laundered using the nine Yassine Enterprise bars raided in March.
Alleged drug transactions
- Mo Yassine was written a $6,000 check from Treasure Island after he brought in $6,500 in cash on Sept. 19, 2008.
- He was given an $8,000 check from Spill Nightclub after bringing in $8,000 in cash on Oct. 10, 2008.
- An FBI video recording was shown, recorded in April 2009 in which Mo Yassine is written three checks from Pure, Warehouse Entertainment, and Kiss & Fly for $90,000 after bringing $100,000 in a pink gift bag.
Charges against them include:
Hussein Ali Yassine, also known as "Mike"
- conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- three counts of money laundering
Mohammed Ali Yassine, also known as "Steve," "Steve Austin" and "Hammudih"
- money laundering
- two counts of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine
- two counts of distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine
- transferring a firearm knowing it is to be used in a drug trafficking crime
Hadi Ali Yassine
- conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- two counts of money laundering
Linguists are expected to be part of the court proceedings as the recordings take place in French, Arabic and English.
Attorneys for the Yassine brothers quickly attacked Mo Yassine's character by pointing out a history of drug use and the $340,000 he had been paid by the government to take part in the investigation.
One attorney called Mo Yassine an "accomplished
and world-class liar."
Hadi Yassine's attorney told the jury the recordings would prove his client was not involved in money laundering.
Judge Sam Sparks told jurors the trial would last until the middle of next week.
Plenty of the recordings obtained by Mo Yassine are expected to be heard as a part of evidence.
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