In surprise move, Uresti business partner pleads guilty

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SAN ANTONIO — A co-defendant in state Sen. Carlos Uresti’s trial on securities fraud and money laundering charges pled guilty on Monday. The surprise move allows prosecutors to call businessman Stan Bates to testify against the Democratic lawmaker.

Bates had been expected to ask U.S. Senior District Judge David Alan Ezra to be tried separately from Uresti and a third defendant, Gary Cain. The men were charged with a combined 22 felony counts in connection with their work at FourWinds Logistics, a defunct oil-field services company.

Bates remains free on bond pending his sentencing on April 17. Jury selection for the Uresti-Cain trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18.

Amid allegations of two-timing sex with a prosecution witness and revelations of salacious texts, Bates’ attorney suggested that his client’s co-defendants had teamed up to make him take the fall in court.

Bates allegedly had sex with Denise Cantu, a company investor. Prosecutors also allege that Uresti had sex with the Harlingen woman, and “exploited” the relationship to convince her to buy into FourWinds.

Uresti denies having an affair with Cantu.

Uresti represented Cantu in a wrongful-death case involving two of her children. She invested $900,000 from a settlement of the case with FourWinds and lost about $800,000. Separately, she is suing Uresti for fraud.

Uresti, Bates, and Cain, a FourWinds consultant, had shared a joint defense. But assistant public defender Angela Saad Lindsey told Ezra last month that Uresti and Cain were shifting responsibility to Bates.

Among the exhibits entered into evidence by the prosecution was a photo montage of a sex store, fast cars and piles of cash, with Bates at the center. The exhibit was titled “Lavish Spending of Stan Bates.”

“He is not going to get a fair trial,” Lindsey told the judge.

Uresti, Bates and Cain allegedly defrauded investors in FourWinds, which bought and sold sand used in fracking to extract oil and gas from shale rock until the company went bankrupt.

The defendants could face decades in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on most of the individual charges, and up to $5 million on each of the two charges of securities fraud.

Michael McCrum, a lawyer for Uresti, told the Express-News that the San Antonio senator’s “situation is completely different than Stan Bates’, so we are looking forward to this trial and the truth coming out.”

Uresti was FourWinds’ outside general counsel, a one percent owner and escrow agent. He also recruited investors, including Cantu. Bates held a 51 percent stake in the company.

“Uresti and Bates touted Uresti’s position as a Texas state senator in sales pitches to investors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Blackwell said Monday.

“Due in large part to the monetary payments that they were paid from FourWinds, investors lost collectively millions of dollars,” Blackwell said.

Previously, three other FourWinds officials entered guilty pleas and are cooperating with prosecutors. Their sentences are pending.

Kenric Ward can be reached at [email protected]

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