Uresti enters guilty plea in bribery case
In an unexpected series of developments, former state Sen. Carlos Uresti pleaded guilty Friday to a bribery conspiracy charge and rushed from the federal courthouse to avoid the media.
In a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad that was arranged at the last minute — in which no notice was provided to the public court calendars — Uresti pleaded guilty to directing bribes through then-Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, who pleaded guilty last year.
Uresti’s plea deal was sealed, but prosecutors said they will recommend that he serve whatever sentence he gets in the bribery case concurrently with the 12 years in prison he’s already received in a fraud case stemming from Uresti’s involvement in a failed oil field services company called FourWinds Logistics.
Uresti remains free on bond.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 14 before Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra, who had a sealed hearing Thursday to discuss, among other things, a motion by Uresti’s co-defendant and Lubbock businessman, Vernon C. Farthing III, to move the trial.
Ezra denied the motion, according to Farthing’s lawyer, Cynthia Orr.
“It wasn’t secrecy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Blackwell said minutes after Uresti and his lawyer, Mikal Watts, bolted from the courthouse. “It was just fast-moving.”
Watts defended Uresti, a longtime friend, in a text.
“Carlos Uresti is a good man,” Watts said. “ He put his family first in deciding to put this all behind him.”
Uresti had been set to stand trial Oct. 22 in the bribery case. The case against Farthing is still set for Oct. 22.
Federal prosecutors obtained an indictment in May 2017 against Uresti and Farthing, charging them with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Uresti only pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.
It’s not unusual in federal court for plea agreements to be filed under seal, though most are not sealed.
As part of Uresti’s plea, he has agreed not to appeal his conviction in the FourWinds case.
“He has contributed much to this community as a State Senator,” Watts said. “He will contribute much when he returns to our community as well.”
This article will be updated later.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @gmaninfedland |
Patrick Danner is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering banking and civil courts. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @AlamoPD