Witness in Uresti fraud trial arrested for assault, robbery

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Denise Cantu
Denise Cantu

In a runup to the fraud trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti that has already had plenty of twists and turns, there is now another twist.

A key witness in the criminal case against the San Antonio Democrat has been arrested in what police describe as an assault and robbery.

Police found Denise Cantu, 38, on Tuesday in her Harlingen apartment.


Cantu is scheduled to be a witness against the state Senator that begins in January.

A federal grand jury indicted Uresti in May for recruiting his past clients to invest thousands of dollars into a now-bankrupt frac sand company, FourWinds Logistics. Frac sand is needed in the petroleum-producing fracking process. Uresti received a sizable commission for each of the investors he signed on to invest in FourWinds.

The San Antonio Current sums up the role that Cantu plays in the Uresti case:

Cantu is a Harlingen woman whose exploding car tire caused a 2010 wreck that killed her 13-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son and two friends. After winning her criminal case against Ford, Uresti convinced Cantu to invest $900,000 of her settlement money… She lost all but $100,000 — while Uresti pocketed a $27,000 commission for her recruitment.

Police said the alleged assault took place on Nov. 20.

After a car accident, Denise Cantu and accomplice Monica Escobedo allegedly assaulted a female victim and stole her cell phone.

“During the assault, Cantu’s accomplice allegedly pointed a handgun at the victim, threatening her life,” Harlingen police said in a press release. “A male witnessed the assault and attempted to intervene, but was also allegedly threatened with the handgun.”

Cantu and Escobedo fled the scene in a white Toyota Tundra, police said.

The pair were arrested the next day in Cantu’s apartment.

The arrest was first reported by KSAT ABC12.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

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