Things are looking bad for State Senator Carlos Uresti of San Antonio.

Democrat State Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio turned himself into federal authorities on Wednesday. He is facing felony charges for securities law violations and money laundering relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme, as well as bribery.

The Justice Department claims Uresti split about $850,000 in bribes from Lubbock businessman Vernon Farthing III with former Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo. Farthing allegedly bribed the pair in order to secure a medical services contract with the Reeves County Correctional Center.

Now Galindo is pleading guilty to the charges in exchange for an agreement with prosecutors that the sentences against him will be served concurrently (rather than being stacked) and that he will get downward adjustments on the sentencing guidelines.

In exchange for that deal, Galindo is required to cooperate with the investigation and will likely be expected to testify against Uresti.

Uresti faces up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Combined, those charges carry a maximum penalty in excess of 200 years in prison.

The senator is the second member of the Texas legislature to be indicted this session. Earlier this year, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D–Austin) was indicted for falsifying governmental records in order to obtain travel reimbursements, amongst other charges. Another Democrat lawmaker, State Rep. Ron Reynolds of Houston is currently appealing a conviction for barratry and a sentence of one year in jail.

Lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would strengthen ethics laws and increase transparency regarding the finances of elected officials. Some portions of that legislative package have already passed, while other parts, including a revolving door statute and a bill related to the disclosure of government contracts, have been watered down or stalled.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.