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Ogg Fights Release Of Emails With Consultant In Poker Scandal
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 District Attorney.
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 division.
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.
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 money.
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 email read.
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 the county.
“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 byproduct.”
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.