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AM Update: Federal Drug, Money Laundering Charges for Sixth St. Club Owner

The owner of several Sixth Street bars is accused of operating a drug and money laundering syndicate
Photo courtesy kevharb
The owner of several Sixth Street bars is accused of operating a drug and money laundering syndicate

Sweeping Drug Bust Targets Nightclub Owner, Family

Ten individuals connected to a downtown Austin club circuit were arrested yesterday on drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearms charges. 

Yassine Enterprises, which owns Pure, Spill, Kiss & Fly, Stack Burger Bar, Treasure Island, Hyde, Fuel, Malaia and Roial, is at the center of a coordinated effort between Austin police, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The investigation dates to 2007, and those taken into custody yesterday include Yassine Enterprises owner and President Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine, his brothers Hadi Ali Yassine and Mohammed Ali Yassine, their assistant Marisse Marthe Ruales and six others.  Cocaine distribution and over $200,000 in money-laundered cash are two charges in the investigation, and authorities suspect the clubs involved were fronts for these and other illegal activities.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, a hearing has been set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.  Until then they remain in federal custody, and face maximum prison sentences of 20 years to life if convicted.

Texas Exoneree on '60 Minutes' Sunday

CBS news magazine 60 Minutes is set to air an episode of recently exonerated Texan Michael Morton.

Morton, who was convicted of murdering his wife Christine Morton in 1987, was sentenced to life in prison and had served nearly 25 years of his sentence before a DNA test proved his innocence.

As the Texas Tribune reports, the test also connected another man to the murder of Christine Morton: The man whose DNA was connected to Christine Morton's murder was also found at the scene of another Austin murder in 1988. Mark Norwood, a 57-year-old Bastrop dishwasher, has been indicted for Christine Morton's murder and is considered a suspect in the death of Debra Masters Baker.

In a preview for the 60 Minutes special (which you can watch here), Morton describes the moments after he was released:

“It was so alien at first; it wasn’t quite real. We stepped out of the courtroom and it was a beautiful sunny day, the sun felt so good on my face, on my skin. I felt like I was just drinking in the sunshine.”

The episode will air this Sunday, March 25.

Whole Foods Cookie Recall

Austin-based Whole Foods is recalling a brand of chocolate cookies it sells because the labeling doesn’t say the product contains walnuts. The “Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies” are sold Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. The Food and Drug Administration issued a press release about the recall:

The product is packaged in a small brown paper bag, with a clear window and a chocolate chip cookie label on front. The sell-by date and UPC: 2-21485-20399-5 are printed on the back label of the bag. All Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies with sell-by dates March 8, 2012 through March 28, 2012 are affected by the recall.

Whole Foods says no illnesses have been reported.

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