A development in the federal investigation that shut down eight Austin nightclubs will cause four defendants in the case to be kept in federal custody pending their trial.
Hussein Ali “Mike” Yassine, owner of Yassine Enterprises, and his brother Mohammed Ali “Steve” Yassine and Alejandro Melendrez were denied bail at a detainment hearing on Tuesday by a federal judge said Daryl Fields, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Yesterday, judge Dennis Green also detained Edgar Orsini and released Karim Faiq into the custody of his brother, Said Faiq. The other five defendants were released on bond Tuesday, although trial dates have not yet been set.
The 10 defendants are accused of several counts of money laundering and illegal drug and firearm distribution according to official arrest indictments. Yassine Enterprises manages and operates eight Austin night clubs (Treasure Island Pirate Bar, Pure Ultra Lounge, Kiss and Fly, Malaia World Lounge, Roial, Hyde, Fuel and Spill). All eight bars have been closed since last Thursday when FBI agents executed a search warrant of Treasure Island Bar at East Sixth and Neches Streets. Yassine Enterprises is also a part owner in Stacks Burger Bar, which is currently open, although alcohol is not currently being served there.
Drew Matthews, biology sophomore and employee of Yassine Enterprises, said he worked security for Treasure Island Bar until its recent closing.
“I actually enjoyed going to work,” Matthews said. “[The staff of Treasure Island] was really close and friendly with one another.”
Matthews said he chose to quit immediately after he heard about the federal investigation of Yassine Enterprises, but he knows fellow employees who were affected when the bars closed.
“They were paying their bills with that job,” Matthews said. “Management told us we were welcome to try and pick up shifts at other establishments. There were nine bars that were shut down with 20 to 50 employees at each, so I am sure that most establishments downtown have got to be overloaded with people looking for work right now.”
He also said he was surprised by how few students seemed to be upset about the disappearance of these nine venues.
“I wonder if it has something to do with Roundup,” Matthews said. “Maybe next weekend when students actually go downtown, they will start to realize that a lot of these popular establishments are missing.”
Matthews said he thinks the UT and Austin communities will rebound quickly, and he would be interested to see more college-friendly venues take the place of those that were shut down.
Julie Weaver, spokeswoman for the Downtown Austin Alliance, said that her organization could not comment on the situation because the investigation was still in its early stages.
“Without knowing what the legal process holds, we can’t predict the impact this may have on downtown,” Weaver said.
Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Defendants denied bail in nightclub case