SHOW OF STRENGTH
Texas Ethics Arm Fines Fraud Lawmaker Just $500 in ‘Blood Money’ Ponzi Scheme
Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti was convicted on 11 felony charges, accused of groping multiple women in the state legislature, and faces another federal bribery trial in May.
Democratic State Sen. Carlos Uresti will be sentenced in June on the fraud and money-laundering charges after he was found guilty on all counts related to a Ponzi scheme involving now-defunct frac-sand company FourWinds Logistics. Uresti worked as general counsel for the company.
The Ethics Commission announced on Friday that it found credible evidence the lawmaker failed to appropriately report a $40,000 promissory note from FourWinds to his own personal-injury law firm.
At his federal trial, prosecutors successfully argued that Uresti “groomed” $900,000 of “blood money” out of a grieving mother and former client by manipulating her through a sexual relationship. He convinced her to invest nearly all of the money she won in her childrens’ wrongful-death suit in the company, losing almost the whole sum. (Uresti has repeatedly denied that he had any sexual relationship with the woman. His wife filed for divorce earlier this month.)
The 54-year-old will also return to federal court in May on bribery charges unrelated to the FourWinds case.
Uresti has faced resignation calls from both sides, including leading women’s organization Annie’s List and the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus. Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro told The Daily Beast last month that he believes “it’s best for everyone involved if Carlos steps down.”
“The jury has now convicted him, and it’s going to severely compromise his ability to represent the people of his district,” Castro said at the time. “I’ve known Carlos for a long time, and I think that ultimately he will step aside.”
Uresti has been stripped of all committee assignments by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but the lawmaker has given no sign that he plans to leave his seat.
Several women came forward to The Daily Beast in December and February with allegations about the former Marine’s alleged harassment, including one woman who said that the career politician was “one of the worst” offenders in the notoriously sexist legislature. A young political reporter also claimed that Uresti put his hands on her thighs and “put his tongue down my throat.”
Uresti has repeatedly denied all of the allegations reported by The Daily Beast, calling them “unfounded” and “erroneous.”