Jury selection began on Monday in the federal case against three Austin bar owners who are accused of being involved in money laundering, drugs and back taxes. Yassine brothers Hadi, Steve and Mike appeared in court today as 42 potential jurors were questioned by Judge Sam Sparks.
The case came to light back in March with the sudden closing of several Austin nightclubs owned by Yassine Enterprises.
Federal authorities spent years investigating this high profile case. Huseein Ali Yassine, also known as Mike, and his two brothers Steve and Hadi, were arrested along with seven others after the feds raided the bars. The suspects face charges including laundering money used in drug trafficking, cocaine distribution and transferring a firearm to be used to commit a drug trafficking crime.
Prosecutors say the crimes in this case took place between 2007 and 2009 and also accuse Mike Yassine of sending money to an uncle in Lebanon with ties to Hezbollah.
At the time of the arrests, the State Comptroller's office told FOX 7 the businesses owed $2 million in sales and beverage taxes.
Austin Police consider Mike Yassine a person of interest in the 2000 disappearance of his former business partner Paresh Patel. That case still remains under investigation.
So far, seven jurors have been excused. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.