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Former Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti, convicted for his role in Ponzi scheme, released from prison

Former Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti, convicted for his role in Ponzi scheme, released from prison” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio was released from a federal prison in Bastrop on Friday after serving four years and four months of a 12-year sentence for participating in a Ponzi scheme.

Mikal Watts, Uresti’s attorney, said in an email to The Texas Tribune that Uresti had checked into a halfway house two hours after his release from prison. A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Uresti would remain in “community confinement” at the halfway house until his release date on Dec. 12, 2024.

Uresti thanked his lawyers for continuing to work on his case and said his release was a result of good conduct and the federal First Step Act, which aimed to reform federal prison and sentencing laws to reduce recidivism and lower the inmate population in federal prisons.

“I’m a better man — better than before. I have learned the art of ‘hitting it and pivoting’ and it has made all the difference in my situation. Through this journey, I have emerged wiser, healthier, happier, and yes, even funnier,” he said in a statement provided by Watts. “But most importantly, I have achieved a profound sense of freedom where it matters most — within my soul.”

Earlier this year, a federal judge reduced Uresti’s sentence to five years and 10 months, which made him eligible for release in December 2024.

Uresti, a Democrat, served nine years in the Texas House beginning in 1997 and 12 years in the Senate before being convicted of money laundering and wire fraud in 2018 for participating in a Ponzi scheme against investors by FourWinds Logistics, an oil-field services company for which he worked as general counsel.

In 2019, Uresti also pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit bribery for facilitating bribes to a county judge on behalf of a medical services company seeking a contract in the county’s jail. He was serving both sentences concurrently.

In his statement, Uresti said he wanted to return to helping people, “especially children.” As a state senator, he helped create a task force to protect vulnerable children.

Watts, a high-profile San Antonio attorney and friend of Uresti’s who represented him in the criminal cases, said Uresti will join Watts’ law firm as a consultant to “start a new chapter.” Uresti, a former lawyer, was barred from practicing law after his criminal convictions.

As part of his punishment in the Ponzi scheme, Uresti was ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution to victims.

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Western District of Texas, which prosecuted Uresti, said the office had no information or comment on Uresti’s release.

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