Yassine trial reopens, two convicted with federal money laundering charges

David Maly

Members of the Yassine family gasped in shock Friday as two of the three former Yassine downtown club owners on trial for money laundering were found guilty in federal court by a jury of their peers, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Hussein Ali “Mike” Yassine and Hadi Yassine, co-owners of Yassine Enterprises, were found guilty of money laundering charges that could carry a hefty jail sentence, according to court documents released Friday afternoon. Yassine Enterprises owned and operated nine downtown nightclubs until they were confiscated by the federal government this past spring, following a five-year federal investigation into the dealings of the company.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks is expected to issue a sentence within 60 days. The Statesman also reported that Ali “Steve” Yassine was found not guilty but is awaiting federal trial on drug charges. Marisse Ruales, a fourth defendant in the money laundering case, did not stand trial with the three defendants. Her case is still pending, officials said.

Six others were also charged this past spring in relation to the dealings of Yassine Enterprises.

The money laundering trial of the three Yassines began Oct. 1 with jury selection, opening arguments and testimony. The trial continued until this past Wednesday, when the jury began deliberations. 

Trial evidence centered on audio and video recordings collected by the defendants’ cousin Mohamad “Mo” Yassine, who was paid more than $340,000 – tax-free – by the federal government to serve as a confidential informant throughout the investigation. Both the prosecution and defense discussed Mo Yassine’s credibility throughout the trial because he has a history of drug use and illegal activity, according to the FBI. He was caught using illegal drugs during the course of the investigation through periodic drug tests mandated by the FBI as a condition of his compensation.

The nightclubs formerly run by Yassine Enterprises are Treasure Island Pirate Bar, Pure Ultra Lounge, Kiss & Fly, Stack Burger Bar, Malaia World Lounge, Roial, Hyde, Fuel and Spill.

According to an Oct. 8 article in the Austin American-Statesman, plans are in place to replace Spill with Bourbon Girl, a country bar; Kiss & Fly with 404, a dance club; and Fuel with Chicago House, a bar focusing on craft beers. The rest of the nightclubs’ locations remain vacant.


Printed on Monday, October 15, 2012 as: Yassine trial ends, jury finds two guilty