Key witness in Sen. Uresti federal fraud trial faces armed robbery charge

Denise Cantu, 38, arrested in Harlingen Tuesday

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HARLINGEN, Texas – A key witness in the federal fraud trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti has been arrested in connection with the assault of a woman and robbery of her cellphone.

Denise Cantu, 38, was arrested Tuesday in Harlingen. 

Cantu faces felony charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, according to a press release from the Harlingen Police Department.

Related: Sen. Carlos Uresti indicted for wire fraud, other crimes

Cantu's alleged accomplice is accused of threatening a man and a woman with a handgun after she and Cantu assaulted the woman in the 3500 block of West Business 83 around 2:40 p.m. Monday, the release said.

Cantu and the accused accomplice, listed by police as 26-year-old Monica Escobedo, fled the scene in a pickup truck.

The release said Cantu and Escobedo were arrested Tuesday morning at Cantu's home.

Related: Prosecuctors: Uresti's financial problems show he 'had motive to defraud'

Cantu, a former legal client of Uresti, invested $900,000 in 2014 in Four Winds Logistics after she received a hefty settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit, according to federal prosecutors.

Uresti received a commission on that investment, federal documents said.

A majority of the investment, around $800,000, was lost, according to federal documents.

Four Winds, which marketed hydraulic fracking sand for oil production, has been described by prosecutors as a Ponzi scheme.

Related: Federal judge tells Uresti he needs new attorney

Uresti, who remains in office, denies wrongdoing in the fraud case.

He is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 4.


About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.