SAN ANTONIO – Three months after prosecutors asked a federal judge to keep state Sen. Carlos Uresti from selling assets in what they feared may be an attempt to avoid paying back his victims, a judge is being asked to allow Uresti to sell the building that bears his name.
That building, at 924 McCullough, was raided by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2017. Uresti was convicted one year later on six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to launder money instruments, one count of engaging in monetary property, two counts of securities fraud and one count of acting as an unregistered securities broker.
After his conviction this past February, Uresti surrendered his license to practice law. He maintains his seat in the Texas Senate.
Uresti's wife filed for divorce days after the jury's verdict. Her petition is seeking "exclusive use and possession" of their Helotes home, last appraised at $1.5 million, according to online tax records. The divorce case has been sealed.
The government said Uresti will owe at least $3 million in restitution to the victims of the Ponzi scheme he was convicted of running. Uresti, Gary Cain and Stan Bates were convicted for the scheme involving the now-defunct company FourWinds that told investors it dealt in fracking sand. In trial testimony, victims said they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars on the promise they'd make a profit. Instead, they lost their investments.
"Divorce is a common asset protection device in cases where restitution is anticipated, and defendants will routinely agree to a final decree in which the non-debtor spouse receives all of the assets while the defendant receives all the debt. In these instances, the purpose of the divorce is largely to avoid the lien that will arise at sentencing ... enabling the Government to seek to apply that property to a defendant's restitution debt," the court filing said.
A judge granted the restraining order, which bars the dissipation, sale, lease or transfer of Uresti's property without prior approval of the court, including the ability to withdraw funds from Uresti's bank accounts, securities or life insurance policies.
The order also prevents the Urestis from settling their property in the divorce.
Prosecutors and Uresti's attorneys are asking the judge to allow the sale of the McCullough property and its furniture for $978,366.60, court records said. If it's approved, "after payment of any outstanding mortgages, taxes and reasonable costs of the sale, as listed in the closing settlement statement, the remaining funds of approximately $538,264.75 shall be forwarded to the United States Clerk's Office to be deposited into the Court registry pending further order of the Court or for application towards an anticipated restitution judgment," the request said.
Uresti is due in court later this month for sentencing.
Uresti also faces trial on an unrelated bribery case.