Ogg’s Poker Problem

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Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg must come clean. The integrity of her office demands it. Her silence is unacceptable.

When did Kim Ogg know her “senior advisor” was picking up cash from Prime Social poker club to hand out to Democratic politicians? That’s what Amir Mireskandari’s county business card claims he did for the county’s top law enforcement officer.

When Did Kim Ogg find out Prime Social had been threatened with retaliation after complaining they had been cheated out of half a million dollars after paying to help craft a non-existent city ordinance?

How many other “white collar” fraud cases have been compromised by this scandal? That may be another consequence of this botched poker investigation.

Kim Ogg fired Amir Mireskandari on the same day she dismissed the money laundering charges against Prime Social employees. They are owed much more, including a public explanation of the “multiple conflicts of interest” in Ogg’s office. Who else was conflicted and why?

“My company helped Ms. Ogg during the campaign, which included a relentless attack on the lack of transparency in the investigation of a rape victim’s case by the former DA,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “The silence from Ms. Ogg in this case is hypocritical and just as unacceptable.”

More than 100 people lost their jobs after the ‘dog and pony’ show raid last May at Prime Social, that opened up and advertised for more than a year without a peep of complaints from the District Attorney. Prime became a major benefactor of charity, working with Houston police to distribute toys for needy kids at Christmas.

Prime Social employees arrested in May were forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves against these dismissed charges. The club lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as their business was shut down while they watched competitors benefit. The DA said nothing to any other private poker club about shutting down after the selective raid. More clubs opened up in the last several weeks to silence.

Prime Social was accused of money laundering, even though the club had brought in the FBI when they first opened up, just to show how their financial computer systems worked to prevent money laundering.

You know what the “money laundering” charge was in the Prime Social case in the first place? The poker club deposited money in their own bank. Isn’t that what every business does? 

Defense attorneys know that Kim Ogg could have recused her office from the investigation. The dismissal speaks volumes. Her silence speaks volumes too.

Ogg had correctly imposed a ban on political fundraising in her office two years ago, yet Mireskandari, a major fundraiser for the DA, had two political action committees helping fellow Democrats in violation of the policy.

One PAC sent campaign money to a communications firm that was run by her campaign manager.

The second PAC, Texans for Fairness, was very active in the last election, spending about a quarter of a million dollars, supporting Democratic candidates including judges, the Fort Bend District Attorney and Mayor Turner. Mireskandari was one of the biggest donors. His lawyer and business associate was the treasurer.

Now there’s evidence Mireskandari apparently disguised money he solicited from the poker club in his own donations. A day after Prime Social records show Mireskandari picked up $5,000 for the Fort Bend District Attorney Brian Middleton, Texans for Fairness donated the same amount to Middleton. The club’s donation is missing in the PAC’s Texas Ethics Commission reports.

Mireskandari and his PAC donated to Mayor Sylvester Turner. The mayor hasn’t said if he will return the money. In fact, none of the politicians who may have benefited from this PAC have returned money.

Kim Ogg is already fighting the release of many of her communications with Mireskandari, and now that campaign of secrecy is growing, Ogg’s office wants to withhold other emails involving the fired senior advisor, citing protection of victims who reported fraud and potential targets of investigations.

Mireskandari wasn’t a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer, but a campaign fundraiser Ogg picked to help structure her fraud unit and weigh in on important criminal investigations. That makes Mireskandari a possible witness in virtually every major white-collar case the District Attorney may be prosecuting.

Is the DA notifying the lawyers of defendants in those white-collar cases that they may be compromised too?  Are other cases going to be dismissed to avoid greater scrutiny?

Kim Ogg can’t hide behind a PR statement. She should face the cameras and tell the public what she knew and when she knew it.