Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg now wants the Texas
Attorney General to keep secret some of her emails with the consultant at the
center of an ethics scandal in her office. The FBI is already investigating possible
corruption in the poker raids.
Newly released documents raise a lot of new questions for the
Amir Mireskandari was a campaign fundraiser for Ogg before and
since she ran for office, and for the last three years has worked on contract
as a consultant on white collar crime for the District Attorney. Mireskandari
has no known law enforcement or legal training. Emails we do have show he was
involved in investigations and the organization of the white-collar crime
This week, Ogg announced money laundering charges were being
dismissed against employees of two poker clubs, including Prime Social, citing
of conflicts of interest involving a contract employee and political fundraiser
and potentially other District Attorney employees. On the same day, Ogg
terminated her three-year-long consulting contract with Mireskandari.
Dolcefino Consulting has been leading an investigation of those conflicts of interest
since May. Prime Social believed Mireskandari, along with a lawyer in a
prominent Houston law firm, and their investigator were helping them draft a
city ordinance for a gaming license. Club employees also say Mireskandari
picked up cash for political contributions that were supposed to be deposited
in his political action committee.
Last February we confirmed there were no written communications
between the law firm and the City of Houston. In May, shortly after the raids,
we began seeking documents on Mireskandari’s role at the District Attorney’s
Office. Attorneys for Prime Social complain the raids came just weeks after the
poker club was threatened after complaining about the lack of results for their
Ogg has yet to say if she knew of Mireskandari’s political
activities. In June of 2017, Ogg sent an email to all employees advising of the
prohibition on certain political activities. “Our first duty is always to the
people of Harris County who employ us as prosecutors, not politicians,” the
Mireskandari was host of fundraisers for Ogg before and after
she took office. Mireskandari also was treasurer of a political action
committee called Texans for Fairness and Justice, which raised money for
Democratic candidates, including a number of judges.
Texans for Fairness and Justice is the PAC that Prime Social
employees thought they were giving money to. Texas Ethics Commission reports
show the PAC raised $37,000, most of the money being spent on two campaign
firms. One of the firms, Aceves Communications, was formed by Ogg’s former
campaign manager. None of the contributions Prime says they delivered to
Mireskandari in cash are listed in the ethics commission reports. As of last
week, the PAC had not filed a January report.
More than 100 employees of Prime Social lost jobs and the
employees spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers. That’s not counting
lost business while Prime watched other poker clubs operate untouched all over
“We had complained for 6 weeks to the District Attorney’s office
that something didn’t smell right about this selective prosecution,” says Wayne
Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Prime Social had worked with the
FBI and local authorities from the very beginning to be a model for this safe,
legal and entertaining private poker room experience. Staging a mid-day raid
and perp walk in front of TV cameras of employees who did absolutely nothing
wrong was simply unnecessary. The stress on a lot of people’s families is the
Prime Social is moving to reopen in the next few weeks.
“This should never have happened,” says Dolcefino. “The Houston
Police Department, the County Attorney and the District Attorney didn’t say a
peep about this for more than a year while clubs like Prime Social invested
millions of dollars and opened all over town. Not one citation, not one letter,
not one phone call. All of a sudden, they accuse these guys of being money
launderers and mob guys. Give me a break.”
Dolcefino Consulting is an investigative media consulting firm
based in Houston, run by former KTRK Investigative Reporter Wayne Dolcefino.
Dolcefino Consulting was hired early last year to assist Prime Social in
communications with the media.