Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti sentenced to 12 years in prison

By Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune

The San Antonio Democrat’s sentence comes after he was convicted of 11 felonies in connection with FourWinds Logistics, a now-defunct oilfield services company found to have perpetrated a Ponzi scheme against investors.

Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, arrives at the federal courthouse in San Antonio on June 26, 2018.  Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

 

Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison, four months after he was convicted of 11 felonies, including fraud and money laundering. After he’s released, he faces three years probation, according to multiple reports from his sentencing hearing.

The San Antonio Democrat will remain out on bond until October, when he’s scheduled for a second, unrelated criminal trial.

Uresti has also been ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution to the victims of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by the now-defunct oilfield services company FourWinds Logistics. Uresti worked as general counsel for the company, owned a 1 percent stake and earned a commission for recruiting investors, according to court documents.

The two-decade veteran of the Texas Legislature, resigned last week, telling the San Antonio Express-News that his decision to leave office was not an attempt to win a more lenient sentence.

Experts say resigning his seat — which colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been calling for since hours after the verdict was handed down earlier this year — could win him favor with prosecutors in the October trial.

At the hearing, Uresti gave a lengthy statement, apologizing to the victims of FourWinds’ Ponzi scheme and conceding “I should have stepped up.”

“I truly feel remorseful, ashamed, disappointed, disgraced, angry at myself and sad,” Uresti said, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Uresti’s defense lawyers asked U.S. District Judge David Ezra for a lenient sentence, touting a “lifetime of honorable achievements,” particularly his legislative efforts to protect vulnerable children. Prosecutors, meanwhile, advocated for at least 17 ½ years in prison.

The special election to replace Uresti has been set for July 31. Eight candidates— including his brother, state Rep. Tomas Uresti, D-San Antonio — have lined up for the seat: four Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian. Tomas Uresti, a freshman in the state House, lost his primary in March — a somewhat surprising result many attributed to his brother’s conviction.

UPDATE: After leaving the courthouse Uresti told reporters “We’re absolutely going to appeal.”

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