Updated 04/10/2012 10:42 AM
Former state employee faces federal charges in Yassine busts
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Nizar "Nino" Hakiki is one of 11 suspects accused of a drug and weapons trafficking ring in the heart of Austin's entertainment district.
Attorney Larry Sauer is defending Hakiki against these three allegations: conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine and weapons charges.
"Often times people will get involved, make friendships with people that they don't know are involved in illegal activity,” Sauer said.
Sauer points to Hakiki's work history as evidence to his client's character. In fact, Hakiki worked for the Department of Army as an Arab language translator beginning in May 2009. While in Iraq, the Morrocan national had Interim Secret Clearance and was considered "Key Personal" as a government civilian.
"Except for these allegations, he has an exemplary record and has lived an exemplary life," Sauer said. "He received many commendations and recommendations in the military there for his good work."
Following his service during the war in Iraq, Hakiki moved to Austin and worked for the Texas Facilities Commission.
The TFC's Director of Administration Shyra Darr says Hakiki was a good employee.
"He seemed to have all the qualifications and recommendations," she said. "He was reliable, he showed up for work, he had good working relationships with his co-workers."
It’s a contrast to the federal investigation into Hakiki--both government jobs required a background check. According to employers YNN spoke to during our investigation of Hakiki's employment history, no criminal history surfaced during these checks.
According to federal indictments beginning in September of 2008, Hakiki was involved in moving large amounts of cocaine with weapons in his possession. In May 2009, with secret clearance, he began his service in Iraq.
In August of 2010, he was hired by the state as a risk management specialist. Late last month, he was indicted on felony drug and gun charges.