On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in San Antonio returned two indictments against state senator Carlos Uresti in connection with two schemes—one involving alleged kickbacks for a medical services contract at a county jail, and a second dealing with an alleged Ponzi scheme that marketed sand used for hydraulic fracking. He now faces more than a dozen criminal charges and, if convicted, could be imprisoned for decades. Senator Uresti has served in the Texas state legislature for over twenty years, while also maintaining a solo law practice.
According to the indictments, the first alleged scheme involved Four Winds Logistics LLC, a now-bankrupt company formed at the height of the recent oil boom to buy and sell sand used in fracking. Uresti, a personal injury lawyer, allegedly caused one of his clients to invest a $900,000 settlement in Four Winds, which paid commissions to Uresti for drawing investors. Prosecutors, however, assert that Four Winds turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. In Four Winds’ ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, investors claim that the CEO grossly misrepresented the state of the company’s finances and used the company as a personal bank account.
The second scheme involves a contract for medical services at Reeves County Correctional Center, which sits within Uresti’s senate district. The indictment alleges that Uresti conspired with Vernon C. Farthing, a Lubbock doctor, to bribe a Reeves County judge to help secure a medical contract for Farthing’s company with the county jail. According to the indictment, Farthing paid Uresti a $10,000 monthly retainer for his “marketing” services, and Uresti then funneled half of his retainer to Reeves County officials.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Uresti said that he is “hard at work representing District 19 in the 85th Legislative Session.” He denied all charges as “groundless,” and promised to “enter a plea of not guilty and immediately return to work representing District 19.”
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