Nine owners and operators were charged with felony crimes.
Officers raided Prime Social on Westheimer and Post Oak Poker Club on the West Loop.
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At Prime Social, undercover officers with HPD's Vice Division seized computers and hard drives. Owner Dean Maddox was led out in handcuffs.
"We're not going to tolerate it," HPD Chief Art Acevedo said. "We got two of the bigger ones today and this is just the beginning. We need to shut them down. If you want to have these kind of establishments, the legislature needs to authorize it, otherwise we're going to do our job and shut them down."
In April 2018, ABC13 spoke with Post Oak Poker Club owners Daniel Kebort and Bill Heuer. They were among those charged Wednesday.
"We're just facilitating the play between the players," Kebort told 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg.
The clubs have considered themselves private ones. Players pay a membership fee and pay for a seat at a table, but Kebort and Heuer said the house takes no cut. Therefore, they say, they are not gambling establishments.
The nine owners and operators are being charged with money laundering and engaging in organized criminal activity, the district attorney's office said.
"If the D.A.'s office had a problem with this and they (clubs) said, 'We don't care, we're going to keep doing it,' sure, but what effort was made to communicate with people who have communicated with the police department and D.A.'s office from the very beginning, to make sure what they were doing is not a violation of the law?" said Wayne Dolcefino, who has done work for Prime Social, first researching the law and then promoting numerous charity and special events.
"In my view, a business trying to cover their tracks wouldn't be in a giant building on Westheimer," he added.
The clubs' bank accounts, through which millions of dollars have flowed, according to the district attorney's office, have been frozen and are being seized. Players are not being targeted, they added.
There were many disappointed players who showed up during the raid at Prime Social for the tournament that was cancelled.
"I feel shocked, like they took something away from me," said Sean Maggio, who traveled from Nacogdoches to play.
The persons charged and locations raided Wednesday include:
Post Oak Poker Club, 1001 West Loop South, Suite 400
- Daniel Jeffery Kebort, owner
- William Jack Heuer III, owner
- Alan Harris Chodrow, owner
- Sergio Diaz Cabrera, owner
- Kevin Louis Chodrow, owner
Prime Social Poker Room, 7801 Westheimer Rd.
- Dean Maddox, owner
- Mary Switzer, comptroller
- Brent J. Pollack, general manager
- Steven Farshid, asst. general manager
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