June 26–Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison for his roles in defrauding investors in an oil field services company.
He was ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution to victims and faces three years probation, after he is released, for each of 11 felony counts. But Uresti remains free on bond until the end of his next trial, which starts Oct. 22.
The longtime San Antonio politician was convicted in February of 11 felonies and had faced a recommended sentence between 168 to 210 months.
Uresti, 54, gave a lengthy statement at his sentencing and apologized to each of his victims at the John H. Wood Jr. Federal Courthouse in San Antonio.
“I truly feel remorseful, ashamed, disappointed, disgraced, angry at myself and sad,” Uresti said. “Your honor, you are correct. I should have known. I should have asked more questions. I should have stepped up.”
He said that after his conviction, he tried to rationalize and wrongly blamed everyone but himself.
“There’s no one to blame but me. All my life I had direction and purpose. I lost that direction and purpose. Instead I followed opportunity.”
Outside the courthouse following the 2 1/2 -hour hearing, U.S. Attorney John Bash called the sentence “fair.”
“It really sends a message that, as the judge said, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re held to the same standard of justice as every other citizen of this country.”
Across the courthouse plaza, Uresti remained defiant in telling reporters that he would file an appeal within 14 days.
An angry Michael McCrum, Uresti’s attorney, objected to the penalty.
“I think the sentence today is ridiculous, with all due respect to the judge,” McCrum said.
The sentencing hearing got started at about 2:40 p.m. to a packed courtroom. More than 30 family members and friends of Uresti arrived at the courthouse hours before the hearing. Many donned blue ribbons and blue rubber wrist bands with Uresti’s name and “Blue Ribbon Task Force,” which he had a hand in creating while in the state Legislature to combat child abuse.
Uresti entered the courtroom with his attorne McCrum. Uresti, wearing a navy blue suit and blue tie, shook hands with his sons and brother, state Rep. Tomas Uresti.
Federal prosecutors orginally wanted Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra to sentence Uresti to a prison term ranging from 17 1/2 to almost 22 years. But after the judge ruled on Uresti’s objections to what was in a presentence report, the recommended sentencing guildeline rang was lowered.
Still, McCrum asked for a more lenient penalty of two to three years.
The San Antonio Democrat resigned from the state Senate last Thursday — the 21st anniversary of his first being elected to office. He surrendered his law license in March rather than face the possibility of disbarment. He had been a lawyer for more than 25 years.
A 12-person jury found Uresti guilty of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to money laundering over his involvement in FourWinds Logistics, which was established to buy and sell sand used in fracking for oil production. It turned out to be Ponzi scheme, however.
Court security officers banned cell phones and any use of social media during the hearing.
This story will be updated.
Patrick Danner is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. — firstname.lastname@example.org — Twitter: @AlamoPD
Guillermo Contreras is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. — email@example.com — Twitter: @gmaninfedland
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