“A Bankrupt Frac-Sand company, Millions in Losses, a Texas State Senator and the FBI Name(s) of Reporters”

San Antonio Express-News  
August 20, 2016 

Legal reporter Patrick Danner was doing what any good beat reporter does, following up on a court filing he stumbled across in looking at troubled oil field companies in August 2015.

The story was simple enough, a roundup of local bankruptcies tied to the collapse in oil prices. But Halliburton was involved with a tiny company called FourWinds, so he kept monitoring the case.

Something unusual caught his attention, though. An attorney on a conference call during a creditors’ meeting a few months later asked about a related lawsuit three hours away involving company executives that included a sitting state senator.

Danner spent months sitting through court hearings and combing through bankruptcy documents, court filings, campaign data and other public records to unravel a tail of greed and corruption surrounding FourWinds and Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti.

He tracked down the company’s investors, including a grieving mother who lost two of her children and then put her trust in Uresti’s recommendation to invest in FourWinds the proceeds of her wrongful death case – losing $800,000. He found company expenses for luxury cars and Victoria’s Secret and tracked down former employees who said they were coerced into falsifying data to dupe investors.

Danner eventually got on-the-record interviews with several FourWinds executives, including its former CEO. Uresti, himself, was compelled to talk to Danner under the weight of all of his reporting.

Since Danner’s blockbuster story was published Aug. 20, three former FourWinds executives have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and are awaiting sentencing. Uresti, who was re-elected to the state House in November, is currently under criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Submitted by Jamie Stockwell.

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