Texas Lawmaker Resigns Ahead of Fraud Sentencing

SAN ANTONIO (CN) – The Texas state senator convicted in February of 11 felony charges for running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme announced his resignation on Monday, though Carlos Uresti’s exit will not change the balance of the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti speaks to reporters Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, after being found guilty of 11 felony charges related to a Ponzi scheme. (Photo by Erik De La Garza/CNS).

Uresti, 54, a San Antonio Democrat first elected as a state representative in 1997, is set to be sentenced in federal court next week and also faces a separate bribery trial later this year in Reeves County. His resignation as one of 11 Democrats in the 31-member Texas Senate is effective Thursday.

“As you know, I am in the process of ensuring that justice is served,” Uresti said in a statement on Monday. “The recent events have had a significant impact on my life, my family and my constituents. I need to attend to my personal matters and properly care for my family.”

On Feb. 22, a jury convicted Uresti and his co-defendant Gary L. Cain on a total of 20 felony charges related to the now-bankrupt fracking enterprise FourWinds Logistics. FourWinds CEO Stanley P. Bates pleaded guilty in January to eight felonies, including securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Uresti was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud, engaging in monetary transactions with property derived from specified unlawful activity, and being an unregistered securities broker.

Prosecutors depicted Uresti at trial as a cash-strapped politician who used his “well-known name” to steer millions of dollars into the sham company, while hiding its true financial status from investors. He faces the potential of decades in prison when he is sentenced next Tuesday by U.S. District Judge David Ezra.

One week after the month-long trial, Uresti’s wife of six years, Lleanna, filed a divorce petition in Bexar County state court. In April, the former Marine and personal injury attorney surrendered his law license in lieu of disciplinary action from the State Bar of Texas.

Uresti also faces a civil lawsuit pending in Bexar County state court from defrauded investor Denise Cantu. Cantu, whose testimony at trial included lurid details about the sexual relationship she had with the married lawmaker, has been ordered to testify at his sentencing next week.

Uresti spent a decade in the Texas House of Representatives before winning election to the District 19 Senate seat in 2006, where he gained a reputation as an advocate for abused and neglected children.

In his resignation letter, Uresti said his priority will be “to continue to ensure that justice is done and working to help children across Texas.”

“It has always been my intention to do what was right for the constituents of District 19 and for Texas. To the extent any of you feel I let you down, please grant me forgiveness,” he said.

He asked Governor Greg Abbott to hold a special election for his vacated Senate seat, one of the largest geographical districts in the United States, in November.

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