Denise Cantu, the 38-year-old star witness in the federal fraud case against Texas state Senator Carlos Uresti, has been arrested for her alleged role in an armed robbery.
Cantu was arrested at her Harlingen home Tuesday, a day after she and another woman allegedly assaulted a woman and stole her cell phone. Harligen police said Cantu's accomplice had pointed a gun at the victim during the assault.
This arrest is the second time Cantu's been charged for assault with a weapon this year — and could taint her witness testimony against Sen. Uresti in his coming January trial.
Uresti, who heads a personal injury law firm in San Antonio, was indicted in May on 13 criminal charges
in two separate cases involving alleged bribery and wire fraud. One of these cases zeroes in on Uresti's role in what the federal government calls "an investment Ponzi scheme" involving Four Winds, a now-bankrupt fracking company. Uresti, who provided legal services to Four Winds, allegedly recruited investors straight from his firm's client list. According to some of Uresti's clients who won major settlements, the lawmaker pressured them to invest their newfound fortune into Four Winds.
Cantu was one of those clients. When an exploding car tire caused a wreck that killed two of her children and their two friends, Uresti took the tire company to court. Then he convinced Cantu
to dump her $900,000 settlement into Four Winds. Cantu lost most of this money, while Uresti gained a $27,000 commission from Four Winds.
Cantu has become a critical witness in the case. In the words of the prosecution: "It's hard to imagine a more mentally and emotionally vulnerable client."
The trial against Uresti, and two other men involved in the Four Winds scheme begins on Jan. 4, 2018.