Carlos Uresti

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Carlos Ismael "Charlie" Uresti, Sr.

Texas State Senator for District 19
In office
November 2006 – June 19, 2018 (resignation)
Preceded by Frank Lloyd Madla, Jr.
Succeeded by Pete Flores

Texas State Representative
for District 118 (Bexar County)
In office
January 1997 – November 2006
Preceded by Ciro Rodriguez
Succeeded by Joe Farias

Born September 12, 1963
San Antonio, Texas
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Not first marriage:

Margaret Lleanna Elizondo Uresti (married 2012, divorce pending)

Children Two sons, Michael and Carlos, Jr., from previous marriage

Two step-children from latest marriage
Three grandchildren

Residence San Antonio, Texas
Alma mater St. Mary's University

St. Mary's University School of Law

Occupation Attorney

Captain, United States Marine Corps

Carlos Ismael Uresti, Sr., known as Charlie Uresti (born September 18, 1963), is an American attorney, businessman, and a Democratic politician from his native San Antonio, Texas. From 2006 to 2018, he represented the geographically large District 19 in the Texas State Senate, which encompasses nearly a third of the United States border with Mexico. From 1997 to 2006, he represented District 118 in the Texas House of Representatives. On five occasions, the popular liberal was named "Legislator of the Year."

However, his fortunes sunk with eleven federal felony convictions in February 2018. He was found guilty of involvement in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors in an oilfield company, FourWinds Logistics.[1] Under state law, he is not required to resign as senator upon those convictions, but the Senate could expel him with a two-thirds vote.

In 2012, Uresti married the former Margaret Lleanna Elizondo (born c. 1975), a woman twelve years his junior and a former elementary school counselor and a real estate agent who was divorced from Joel Rodriguez. Uresit was her attorney in the divorce. The ceremony was performed by Judge Orlando Garcia at the exclusive Kendall Plantation east of Boerne in Kendall County. The wedding was one of "glamour, glitz, elegance, and romance," consistent with Uribe's interest in the 1972 Marlon Brando and Mario Puzo mobster film, The Godfather. She brought two children into the marriage, Sebastian and Katalina. Uresti himself has two grown sons, Michael and Carlos, Jr.[2][3]

Shortly after the convictions, Mrs. Uresti filed for divorce on the basis of adultery that came to light in the securities case against her husband. Uribe's chief accuser, Denise Cantu of Harlingen in south Texas, obtained a $2.5 million settlement for the deaths of two of her children in an automobile accident in 2010. She then invested $900,000 of that amount with FourWinds and said that she did not understand that Uresti was personally benefiting from her investment. At first Cantu told police that there had been no romantic interlude with Uresti; then she changed her story: and claimed that he had pursued her for sexual favors and boated of the size of his penis. Uresti denied the claims and questioned Cantu's credibility on the basis of her having charged him after first saying that there was no relationship. Then, on February 28, 2018, two more women came forward to charge Uresti with sexual harassment; one of them is Jenn Cervella, a data director for the Texas Democratic Party who first met Uresti in 2015. Throughout the trial, Mrs. Uresti had accompanied her husband to and from court and embraced him upon learning of his conviction in the five-week trial.[3]

Uresti remained free on bond until his sentencing on June 28. He appealed the verdict and remained temporarily a state senator.[3] Federal prosecutors said Uresti will likely owe more than $3 million in restitution to victims of his criminal fraud. They also claim the divorce is an effort to protect funds.[4] Uresti and co-defendant Gary Cain are seeking a new trial based on their contention that Judge David Ezra erred in giving instructions to the jury. Uresti questions the disqualification of Mikal Watts as the lawmaker's first attorney, He further claims that Judge Ezra made "a multitude of public statements that appear to be heavily biased" against Uresti's presumed innocence.[5]

Two of Uresti's brothers are active in San Antonio Democratic politics: Albert Uresti ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2006 and was elected Tax Assessor-Collector for Bexar County in 2012. Tomas Uresti is until January 2019 the state representative for the District 118 seat once held by Carlos Uresti himself. Tomas Uresti was unseated in the Democratic primary election held on March 6, 2018,[6] and leaves that position in January 2019.

After their wedding, Carlos and Lleanna Uresti built a $1.8 million house located on three acres at Helotes Creek Ranch in southwestern San Antonio.[3]

On March 23, 2018, Uresti surrendered his license to practice law to avoid disciplinary action from the state bar. Had he not resigned from the law practice, he would have been automatically disbarred from his practice of more than twenty-five years upon his sentencing pending on June 28.[7] On April 6, 2018, U.S. District Judge David Ezra denied Uresti's request for a motion of dismissal and for a new trial as well. Judge Ezra ruled that Uresti was "subjectively aware of the illegal conduct" surrounding FourWinds Logistics.[8]

On June 19, 2018, Uresti resigned his state Senate seat. Governor Greg Abbott called a special election for July 31 to fill the five months remaining in the term. Uresti had urged that the seat remain vacant pending a special election for November 6, the date of the national congressional elections.[9] A week later, Uresti was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. Uresti will appeal the sentence.[10]U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that Uresti could remain free on bond until the conclusion of a federal bribery charge in Reeves County. That trial is scheduled to begin on October 28, 2018.

Eight candidates, including Uresti's brother, Tomas Uresti, liberal state Representative Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio, former U.S. Representative Pete Gallego, former congressional candidate Charles Urbina Jones, and Republican Pete Flores filed for the special election to fill's seat.[10][11]

A retired state game warden from Pleasanton in Atascosa County south of Antonio, Flores who lost to Uresti in the 2016 general election for the state Senate. He narrowly led in the 2018 special election but finished short of a majority. In the runoff election, Pete Flores faced Democrat Pete Gallego, a former U.S. Representative and state representativee who now lives with his wife in Austin but pays utilities and is still registered to vote in his native Alpine. Flores polled 8,965 votes (34.5 percent) to Gallego's 5,406 (32.5 percent). Roland Gutierrez finished third with a critical 4,4431 votes (26.6 percent.[12] Flores faced daunting prospects because the total Republican vote in the special election, 36.1 percent, was far from a majority of the ballots cast.[13][14]

Gallego, considered more liberal than Flores, carried the endorsement of the usually independent Laredo Morning Times, though Flores was reared in Laredo. The newspaper like Gallego opposed the 2017 "bathroom bill" that would have required transgender Texans to use the public rest room according to their genitalia at birth. Though the measure was blocked from a vote in the state House, Flores still supports it because numerous crimes have been reported involving transgenders in rest rooms. Gallego also opposes the sanctuary cities bill, which was passed into law. That legislation, he claims, alienates law enforcement from the immigrant community, but Flores supports the sanctuary cities law because law-enforcement officers are sworn to uphold all laws. Governor Abbott dispatched the Department of Public Safety at an estimated cost of $800 million over two years to help federal officials secure the border. Gallego claims that those funds would have been better spent on public education.[15]

With final results on September 18, Flores scored an unexpected upset over Gallego in a year in which Texas Democrats confidently expected to ride a "blue wave" to major victories on November 6, fueled largely by popular U.S. Senate candidate, Beto O'Rourke. Flores polled 23,576 votes (53 percent); Gallego, 20,911 (47 percent). Flores' victory was assured with his 81 percent margin in Medina County and his 64 percent in Uvalde County, both west of San Antonio. Gallego carried the Bexar County precincts with nearly 54 percent, but the margin was insufficient for him to overcome Flores district-wide.[16]Flores' term will expire in January 2021; like President Trump, he faces reelection in 2020.


  2. Sen. Uresti weds in Sunday ceremony. (June 24, 2012). Retrieved on March 4, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Sen. Uresti's wife files for divorce," San Antonio Express-News, March 3, 2018, pp. 1, A7.
  4. Patrick Danner, "Uresti could owe victims of fraud $3 million: Prosecutors say divorce is a bid to protect funds," San Antonio Express-News, March 9, 2018, pp. 1, A20.
  5. Patrick Danner, "Uresti, Cain cite judge, seek new trial," San Antonio Express-News, March 10, 2018, pp. B1, B5.
  6. Tomas Uresti. Retrieved on March 4, 2018.
  7. Patrick Danner, "Uresti no longer holds law license", The San Antonio Express-News, April 14, 2018, p. 1.
  8. Patrick Danner and Gillermo Contreras, "Judge denies Uresti's request: State senator sought new criminal trial, The San Antonio Express-News, April 6, 2018, p. B1.
  9. Sergio Chapa (June 20, 2018). Gov. Abbott calls for July election to fill state senate seat. San Antonio Business Journal. Retrieved on June 21, 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ben Spicer (June 26, 2018). Former State Sen. Carlos Uresti sentenced to 12 years in prison: Uresti found guilty of eleven felonies relating to fraud, money laundering. KSAT Television. Retrieved on June 29, 2018.
  11. Jasper Scherer, "Pair of Democrats aim for Uresti's Senate seat", The San Antonio Express-News, April 7, 2018, pp. 1, A11.
  12. Election returns. Texas Secretary of State (July 31, 2018). Retrieved on July 31, 2018.
  13. Gilbert Garcia, "GOP has special-election hopes for seat held by Uresti", San Antonio Express News, March 11, 2018, p. 2.
  14. Jasper Scherer, "Pair of Democrats aim for Uresti's Senate seat", The San Antonio Express-News, April 7, 2018, pp. 1, A11.
  15. Gallego earns nod in Senate District 19 runoff race. The Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved on September 9, 2018.
  16. 2018 Special Runoff Election Returns. Texas Secretary of State.