Texas State Senator Convicted of 11 Felonies for Ponzi Scheme

SAN ANTONIO (CN) – A federal jury in San Antonio found Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti guilty Thursday on all 11 felony charges he faced for running a Ponzi scheme that took millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors.

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).

The 12-member jury deliberated for just over 11 hours over three days before rejecting Uresti’s claim that he was an unknowing participant in the now-bankrupt fracking enterprise FourWinds Logistics.

“I can’t find the right words, obviously,” Uresti, 54, told reporters outside the federal courthouse after the verdict. “But I do want to thank my wife Lleanna and apologize for everything I’ve put her through.

“This was a shock to all of us. This is not the verdict we were expecting,” he added.

Uresti, a three-term Democrat from San Antonio, said he will not be immediately stepping down from office, and plans on appealing the verdict.

The longtime lawmaker has been on trial since Jan. 22 with co-defendant Gary L. Cain, also convicted Thursday on all nine of his charges. FourWinds CEO Stanley P. Bates pleaded guilty in January to eight felonies, including securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Bates, who faces decades in prison when he is sentenced in April, did not testify at Uresti’s month-long trial.

Prosecutors depicted Uresti 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.

Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti leaves the courthouse Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, after being found guilty of 11 felony charges. (Photo by Erik De La Garza/CNS).

Defense attorneys argued Uresti was an unknowing participant in Bates’ start-up company who “didn’t know what the inner circle knew about FourWinds Logistics.”

Prosecutors claim Uresti made $115,000 in seven and a half months of work as FourWinds’ general counsel and investment recruiter.

He was convicted Thursday 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 said Cain, 61, a consultant, made $210,000. He was convicted on nine felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and seven counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

“It’s a good day in the sense that justice was served,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph E. Blackwell said. “There’s really no winners here.”

Uresti faces another trial in May for bribery and money laundering in a separate criminal case.

Sentencing for Thursday’s convictions has been set for June 25.

Uresti faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the fraud-related charges, and up to 10 years for each money-laundering charge. A personal injury attorney, Uresti is in jeopardy of losing his law license as a convicted felon, and will have to forfeit his Texas Senate seat if he is unsuccessful on any possible appeal.

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