Texas prosecutors are no longer pursuing a civil lawsuit against the two Houston poker rooms that were raided last May.
Harris County prosecutors dropped a civil suit against Prime Social Club and Post Oak Poker Club on Thursday three weeks after their criminal case was dismissed.
The two clubs were raided by officers from the Vice Division of the Houston Police Department. There were nine owners and managers arrested between the two establishments, all charged with money laundering and engaging in organized criminal activity.
District Attorney Kim Ogg dismissed the charges July 16 after it was brought to light that the clubs paid Ogg’s former consultant, Amir Mireskandari, and a few others, $250,000 in exchange for drafting a city ordinance that protected gambling locales such as their own.
Those ordinances, however, were never official drafted or voted on. Club owners claimed they were duped by the city officials, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. Ogg cited a potential conflict of interest when he dropped the charges.
Without a criminal conviction, First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard told the Chronicle that there is no basis for a civil suit against the clubs.
“These nuisance lawsuits rely on criminal investigations,” said Soard. “If we don’t have a criminal investigation to rely on, it doesn’t make sense as civil lawyers to pursue it in court.”
Soard also said that he would re-file the suits if the county gathers enough evidence.
Wayne Dolcefino, a consultant and spokesperson for Prime Social Club, said from the start that the charges were baseless. He echoed those sentiments to local media outlets when the lawsuits were dropped.
“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.
Prime Social Club’s defense attorney Joseph Maglio said that he believes his clients were victims of fraud.
The state seized $206,000 from the two poker rooms during the raid. Ogg said that the money was in the process of being returned to the rooms. Both rooms are reportedly in the process of rehiring employees and are re-opening their businesses in the coming weeks.