Thursday, February 16, 2017

FBI Raids Sen. Carlos Uresti's Downtown Law Office, Won't Say Why

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge ALEX ZIELINSKI
  • Alex Zielinski
On Thursday morning, FBI and IRS trucks parked outside Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti's downtown San Antonio law office as agents walked out with documents and other equipment. When asked about the purpose of what looks like a federal raid on a sitting state senator's law office, all local FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee would tell us is this: "Law enforcement Agents with IRS and FBI are lawfully present conducting a law enforcement operation. No further details can be released at this time." Lee also said no arrests have been made, and told us she didn't expect to have any more answers today.

Of course, the big question is whether the raid is at all related to Uresti's questionable involvement in a shady, and now bankrupt, oilfield services company that's been accused of defrauding investors.

The Express-News detailed the drama in an exhaustive report last year: how investors claim the former CEO of Four Winds, a now-defunct frac sand company that tried to bank big off the South Texas oil boom, spent their money on Ferraris, "wild parties" and $20,000 diamond rings; how Uresti once provided legal services to Four Winds, at one point even acted as outside counsel for the company, and even helped recruit investors while maintaining a small stake in the company; or how some of the personal injury clients Uresti steered toward Four Winds — clients, like Denise Cantu of Harlingen, who won a substantial settlement after an exploding tire caused a wreck that killed her 13-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son and two friends — wound up losing a staggering amount of money (in Cantu's case, Uresti received a $27,000 commission; she lost most of her $900,000 investment with Four Winds).

So far, no less than three FourWinds officials have been charged in connection to the scheme to defraud investors and pleaded guilty — which kind of made it feel like only a matter of time before they got around to Uresti. FBI trucks parked outside his downtown law office Thursday morning read "Computer Analysis Response Team." The Express-News is currently citing an unnamed law enforcement source to connect the raid to Uresti's involvement in Four Winds. (Update 5:00pm: Uresti's office sent us a statement that reads, in part, "Today, FBI agents are in my office, reviewing our documents as part of their broad investigation of the Four Winds matter. I have instructed my staff to fully cooperate with the federal investigators. I will help them in whatever way I can.")

Sure, Uresti has survived scandals before. And who knows — even if this turns out to be another huge mess for him, maybe he'll somehow survive this one, too.

But you've got to wonder what state Dems, who are currently suffering through what's already been a characteristically crazy legislative session, think about one of their longtime electeds facing this kind of distraction back home.

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