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Former State Sen. Carlos Uresti was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison, according to multiple reports from his sentencing hearing.
Uresti was convicted four months ago of 11 felonies, including fraud and money laundering, tied to the now-defunct oilfield services company FourWinds Logistics. Uresti worked as general counsel for the company, owned a 1 percent stake and earned a commission for recruiting investors, according to court documents.
The San Antonio Democrat, a two-decade veteran of the Texas Legislature, resigned last week, telling the San Antonio Express-News that his decision to leave office was not an attempt to win a more lenient sentence.
Experts say resigning his seat – which colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been calling for since hours after the verdict was handed down earlier this year – could win him favor with prosecutors in a second, unrelated criminal fraud trial set for October.
At the hearing, Uresti gave a lengthy statement, apologizing to the victims of FourWinds’ Ponzi scheme and conceding “I should have stepped up.”
“I truly feel remorseful, ashamed, disappointed, disgraced, angry at myself and sad,” Uresti said, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
Uresti’s defense lawyers asked U.S. District Judge David Ezra for a lenient sentence, touting a “lifetime of honorable achievements,” particularly his legislative efforts to protect vulnerable children. Prosecutors, meanwhile, advocated for at least 17 ½ years in prison.
The special election to replace Uresti has been set for July 31. Eight candidates – including his brother, State Rep. Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio) – have lined up for the seat: four Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian. Tomas Uresti, a freshman in the State House, lost his primary in March – a somewhat surprising result many attributed to his brother’s conviction.