- Alex Zielinski
- Michael McCrum and Sen. Carlos Uresti leaving the federal courthouse last week.
State Senator Carlos Uresti was found guilty on all fraud and money laundering charges against him in a San Antonio federal courthouse on Thursday.
Uresti was indicted in May 2017 for his involvement in a now-defunct fracking sand company, FourWinds, which accepted millions of dollars from investors who were told their money would go towards purchasing frac sand. Uresti, who provided legal services to FourWinds, helped recruit investors while maintaining a small stake in the company. While the investors lost their money, Uresti and his co-defendants, company consultant Gary Cain and former FourWinds CEO Stanley Bates, were accused of misusing investor funds to enrich themselves.
Bates pleaded guilty earlier this year, and Cain was found guilty on all counts alongside Uresti on Thursday. Twelve jurors deliberated for approximately 11 hours over a period of two days to reach their unanimous verdict, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Uresti was found guilty of 11 counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud.
Speaking to press outside the courthouse, Uresti, flanked by his wife and family, said the verdict was a “shock,” and not “the verdict we were expecting.” He said he has no immediate plans to step down from his seat in the Texas Senate, intends to discuss the next steps with his wife and attorneys, and will “absolutely appeal” the decisions.
While prosecutors said they were “satisfied” with the verdict, it would not be cause to celebrate.
“I think it’s a somber day for the state, for the city, whenever someone who is in a position of public trust defrauds other people and causes harm to other people. That’s very sad,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, John F. Bash, told reporters outside the courthouse. “So we’re not celebrating, but we’re satisfied that justice was done, and I hope this verdict sends a message to anyone else out there that it doesn’t matter your status in government or in the community — if you commit fraud, you’re going to be held accountable at law.”
When asked if he believed Uresti would be serving time in prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Blackwell said, “I believe that will probably occur, and would be appropriate, but the judge will do the sentencing as he determines is appropriate.”
Uresti and Cain will be free on bond until sentencing on June 25, 2018.
During the four-week trial, Uresti maintained his innocence, and his attorneys depicted him as a clueless victim who was unaware of the inner workings of FourWinds. Several friends of Uresti's testified saying they had warned the Senator to cut ties with the company they believed to be a scam.
A large portion of the trial centered around key witness Denise Cantu, an investor who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after she invested in FourWinds at the advice of Uresti.
Cantu met Uresti when she hired him to sue the companies responsible for selling her faulty car tires, after she was in a traumatic car crash in 2010 that killed her 13-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son, and two of their friends. Cantu and Uresti's friendship-turned-relationship was the center of the trial for almost a week, during which attorneys grilled her on her sexual relationships with Uresti and Bates — even though she was there to testify because she had been defrauded by the company.
At one point in the trial, Judge David Ezra denied a request from Uresti's attorneys to acquit both Uresti and Cain, saying the prosecution had already presented enough “telling evidence” against the men that, if believed by the jury, could find both of them guilty.