Convicted Former Texas Democrat Senator Wants Tax Funds for Appeal

Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. right, leaves the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 10, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP File Photo/Eric Gay

The disgraced Texas Democrat lawmaker recently convicted in a federal fraud case and sentenced to 12 years in prison filed court documents to appeal his conviction Tuesday. He wants the taxpayers to pay his legal fees.

Ex-state Senator Carlos Uresti says he is broke and can no longer retain his lawyer Michael McCrum, the San Antonio defense attorney who represented Uresti during his recent federal trial. In the court document, Uresti asked the court to appoint McCrum as his appellate lawyer.

“Mr. Uresti is financially unable to obtain counsel and wants counsel to remain but be appointed by the government because he can’t afford to pay attorney fee, costs, etc.,” stated the appeal, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The court document also argued that Uresti was eligible for a court-appointed attorney through the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) “because he is indigent.”

In June, Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra sentenced Uresti to 12 years in prison, ordered him to pay $6,345,441 in restitution to his victims, and be placed on supervised release for three years after completing his time behind bars.

Breitbart Texas reported Uresti was found guilty on 11 federal felonies including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with his involvement in a Ponzi scheme he and other associates developed that defrauded investors. The group used a company named Four Winds Logistics to sell sand as part of a hydraulic fracking and sand oil production business. Uresti, an attorney, served as the company’s outside legal counsel. He owned a one percent stake in Four Winds and recruited potential investors for ventures with the company.

Since his conviction, Uresti’s wife filed for divorce. He surrendered his law license. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick removed Uresti from his committee assignments in the Senate. Although pressure mounted from both sides of the aisle calling for his resignation, Uresti refused to step down. Finally, in June, he resigned.

Then, Governor Greg Abbott ordered an emergency special election on July 31 to fill Uresti’s vacant state Senate District 19 seat. Abbott explained that Uresti’s longstanding legal woes left his constituents “without effective representation” for more than a year.

Scrambling for cash to pay legal fees and the court-ordered restitution, Uresti recently asked the court for permission to sell the San Antonio office building where he practiced law before his conviction. The San Antonio newspaper reported Uresti was barred from disposing any assets without the court’s approval.

The longtime San Antonio Democrat fixture also put on the market his palatial 8,000 square foot home on nearly three acres for $1.7 million.

Ezra has allowed Uresti to remain free on bond while he awaits a separate criminal trial in October on bribery charges over a medical contract at a West Texas jail. Uresti has denied these charges.

His co-defendant Gary Cain, received almost six years in prison and three years of supervised released after his completed sentence. Cain must also repay $6.3 million in restitution. He, too, filed a notice appealing his conviction.

Uresti was first elected to serve Senate District 19 in 2006, He was reelected in 2016. Previously, he acted in the Texas State House of Representatives from 1997 to 2006.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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