On Thursday afternoon, a Democratic Texas state senator was found guilty on 11 felony charges, including “multiple counts of fraud and money laundering,” reports the Texas Tribune.
State Sen. Carlos Uresti was charged last year for his role in what authorities called a “Ponzi Scheme” involving a bankrupt oilfield services company called FourWinds Logistics. Uresti, the Texas Tribune says, “used his prestigious reputation to lend credibility to an unknown company; several investors testified that Uresti’s presence reassured them that their money would be safe with FourWinds.”
Uresti served as general counsel for FourWinds, owned 1% of the company, and earned a commission for every investor he brought into the scheme, authorities say. But when investors lost most of their money — for some, hundreds of thousands of dollars — they went to Texas law enforcement to investigate the company.
That investigation resulted in 11 separate felony fraud and money laundering charges against Uresti and his partners. Some of those involved negotiated plea deals, which included them serving as witnesses against others involved, but Uresti maintained that he was not involved in the Ponzi scheme. A jury, Thursday, decided differently.
Uresti will now face jail time on the 11 charges, which include felony fraud and money laundering. He also became ineligible to continue to serve as a state legislator, and he will be disbarred. Texas Democrats have not yet called for Uresti to resign, but issued a “strong rebuke” following the verdict, saying that “no one is above the law.”
Texas Republican Lt. Gen. Dan Patrick made it easy on them, taking his own steps to strip Uresti of any legislative influence.
“I have notified his office that he will be relieved of his committee assignments, effective immediately,” Patrick said. “I will replace him in those positions shortly so that the work of these committees can continue to move forward.”
Uresti says he will appeal the verdict.