SAN ANTONIO – One day before he is due in federal court for sentencing on a fraud case, Carlos Uresti is asking a judge to consider "good and just outcomes that he accomplished for his community" and not just the years-long sentence prosecutors are proposing.
Uresti was convicted in February 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. Uresti, Gary Cain and Stan Bates were convicted for the scheme involving the now-defunct company FourWinds which 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.
A 36-page sentencing memorandum asking for leniency was filed Monday. Uresti's sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. According to court documents, prosecutors are asking the judge to sentence the former state senator to 210 to 262 months in federal prison -- 17.5 to 21.8 years. Prosecutors have also previously said Uresti may owe up to $3 million in restitution to victims of the scheme.
"Despite his fall from grace after the conduct involved here, this Court should nevertheless accept as true, that the overwhelming portion of the life of Carlos Uresti did not involve criminal conduct. His life has been devoted to helping others, and to making this state a better place for all Texans. The good and just outcomes that he accomplished for his community should stand as a significant mitigating force in the consideration of his ultimate sentence," the document said.
The filing also quotes more than three dozen supporters, including many relatives, who speak highly of Uresti's service and mentorship. The document also includes 14 pages of awards and recognitions Uresti has received, as well as legislation he worked to pass -- including the creation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force in 2004, which worked on strategies to prevent child abuse.
"I believe the most important program Senator Uresti ever started was the Blue Ribbon Task Force. This began after the death of a toddler, Jovonie Ochoa that was starved to death by his grandmother. I KNOW this ripped Carlos apart as he has never stopped speaking of it or acting on child abuse because of it. Child Abuse Awareness became his priority over everything else in life. This program had a domino effect as we now have many organizations with the same goal of bringing awareness to child abuse," said State Representative Tomas Uresti. He is also one of Carlos Uresti's brothers.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood also asked the judge to consider Uresti's full history.
"Carlos Uresti has exemplified service in his passion to protect the most vulnerable members of our community in Bexar County and throughout Texas. Since I have known Carlos, I have known him to give voice to those who might otherwise go unnoticed or have no voice of their own. I can affirm this as we have worked together to protect Bexar County's children, elderly, and disabled from abuse and neglect during my time as District Attorney. I ask that you give Carlos your consideration in light of his abundant contributions to the people, especially children, of Bexar County and Texas," LaHood said.
Since his conviction, Uresti's wife filed for divorce. He also surrendered his license to practice law. Just last week, Uresti resigned his seat in the Texas Senate -- a position he has held since 2006. Uresti's twin brother, Lorenzo, said that's punishment.
"Carlos has lost his family, home, business, law license, and has had to retire from his exemplary political career. He has literally lost everything. I think his biggest loss he will feel is not being able to help kids anymore," said Lorenzo Uresti.
"He will likely never be able to work again. But, whatever the outcome of his sentencing, I, along with my entire family, am committed to supporting him," said Lisa Dasher, Uresti's niece.
Uresti has asked the judge to allow the sale of the law office with his name on it at 924 McCullough. If approved, the sale of the property and its furniture for $978,366.60 "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.
Among the witnesses prosecutors expect to call at Uresti's sentencing is Denise Cantu. During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Uresti as someone with money troubles looking to cash in on Cantu, Uresti's defense team has spent several hours showing that it was Bates who repeatedly pressured Cantu to invest $900,000 and pushed her to put in even more money after the initial investment.
Federal records show that all but $100,000 of Cantu's investment, which prosecutors described as Ponzi scheme, was later lost.