Bribery, conspiracies, and sex lead to State Senator’s downfall
“Trouble has been brewing for a long time”
On the 21st anniversary of his political career, June 21, 2018, Texas Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti announced his resignation. A few days later, Federal Judge David A. Ezra sentenced the former District 19 Senator to 12 years in federal prison. The next day, the Senior U.S. District Judge ordered Uresti’s partner in crime, Gary Cain, to 68 months in federal prison.
Recent scandals involving San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Police Chief William McManus, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Uresti have shaken Democratic politics to the core in the Texas.
The arrest and sentencing wasn’t much of a surprise to some local observers as it was a blow to the Democratic political machines that supported Uresti. Some of his most powerful supporters and endorsers included Hillary Clinton, Julian Castro, Henry Cisneros, Joaquin Castro, Democratic state Sen. José Menéndez, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolfe. Uresti was embedded deep and has two brothers, Albert and Tomas, have been heavily involved in local controversial politics and positions.
“…sent a picture of his penis…”
“Trouble had been brewing for a long time with Carlos,” said one long time in-the-know San Antonio former Democrat (now Independent). “It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when all this would catch up with him. The final straw was when he sent a picture of his penis to Denise Cantu, the lady he was having an affair with and cheating her out of the $900,000 she had won in her children’s wrongful-death lawsuit. There is a reason—and it wasn’t the sunshine—that Carlos wore sunglasses everywhere he went. Other politicians should take note. This is a different world, with the #MeToo movement forcing some of these guys to have some explaining to do.”
Prosecutors showed “Uresti had conned Cantu, his former client, by grooming her with their sexual relationship to get to her money,” he said. “He’d use some of this money to take his young wife on expensive trips to foreign countries, buy her lavish gifts and send her flowers to suppress his guilt from his affairs. When he took the picture of his privates, he was in bathroom stall of a mall while shopping with his wife.”
In February 2007, his first wife, Yolanda Uresti called San Antonio police at 12:45 a.m. on a Saturday to report domestic violence in their south side home on Walahalla Avenue. Police reports show the situation involved a gun because she found out “Carlos was having an affair.” She told the police dispatcher that he was abusing her, he was a senator and he had a gun.
After a divorce from Yolanda, Uresti married Lleanna Elizondo, a Harlingen High School beauty alumni, 12-years his junior in 2013. The Uresti’s went on extravagant trips to such places as Dubai and Rome.
“Some tried to warn her to be careful about him,” the former friend said. “But he romanced her with everything he could. We didn’t want her to be his ‘Trophy Wife,’ because she is a very, very nice person.”
In a separate scandal, Uresti and Vernon C. Farthing III are accused of paying and accepting bribes for a medical services contract between the Reeves County Correctional Center and Farthing’s company. Farthing’s attorney wanted to make certain they had separate trials. In a court filing, the attorney indicated, “Uresti has been accused of sexual harassment, extramarital affairs and drug use. Mr. Farthing has no criminal history whatsoever and has not been accused of wrongdoing.”
Uresti remains on bond awaiting a second federal trial in the conspiracy case involving Farthing, of Lubbock, Texas. The indictment specifically alleges that Farthing paid Uresti $10,000 a month as a marketing consultant and that approximately half of that sum was then given to a Reeves County official for his support and vote to award the contract to Farthing’s company. Upon conviction of the charges contained in this indictment, Uresti and Farthing face up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Jury selection is scheduled for October 22, 2018, in San Antonio before Judge Ezra.
“Burn Book of Bad Men”
In what has become known as the “Burn Book of Bad Men,” a Democratic campaign staffer and other women began compiling a spreadsheet in 2016 listing 38 men who they needed to stay away from in Texas Statehouse. It was a list to help them avoid “gropers, sex predators and sexist men of power.” Carlos Uresti’s name was reportedly on the list.
In December 2017 and January 2018, at least five women came forward to investigators with allegations about Uresti’s sexual misconduct. Women’s groups, including Annie’s List, called for Uresti’s resignation in December. By February, it was so bad that even the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus called on him to step down. His longtime family friendships with the Castro brothers—Julian and Joaquin—were not strong enough to prevent Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick from stripping Uresti from his various committee assignments earlier this year.
Cohorts, Uresti and Cain were ordered to pay $6,345,441 restitution in addition to their prison time. According to the FBI, a jury found both men guilty on all charges in a Ponzi scheme involving FourWinds Logistics, Inc. and their defrauding of investors out of millions of dollars. Prior to jury selection, former FourWinds Chief Executive Officer Stanley P. Bates pleaded guilty to eight separate federal charges including securities fraud and money laundering.
During the trial evidence showed that in 2014-2015, Uresti and Cain developed the investment scheme to buy and sell hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sand for oil production. They “made false false statements and representations while soliciting investors in FourWinds. Collected funds were then used to pay earlier investors and for personal expenses including gifts, travel, luxury automobiles, controlled substances, and to hire prostitutes. Evidence and testimony also revealed that Uresti, Cain and Bates engaged in money laundering with the proceeds of wire fraud.”
Bates is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30pm on August 6, 2018, in front of Judge Ezra. For each fraud related charge, Bates faces up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction. For each money laundering charge, Bates faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction.
“As Judge Ezra said, this is a sad day for the community,” said U.S. Attorney John F. Bash. “The judge imposed a just sentence of 12 years in prison that accounts for the fact that former Senator Uresti used his position of trust in the community to lure his victims to the fraudulent scheme at the heart of the case. I hope that this sentence sends the message to others that this office will not tolerate such outrageous abuses of power.”
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those who would defraud and harm others for their own personal gain,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “As an elected official, this individual took advantage of his position and power to personally enrich himself at the expense of those who trusted him. It is imperative that all individuals, but especially those who hold elected office, do so with honesty and integrity. The public can have confidence that the defendant is being held accountable for the crimes of which he has been convicted.”