Ju­rors ac­quit Uresti co-de­fen­dant

Lub­bock busi­ness­man, charged with bribery, con­spir­acy, tes­ti­fied in his own de­fense

San Antonio Express-News - - METRO - By Patrick Dan­ner STAFF WRITER

A San An­to­nio fed­eral jury Fri­day ac­quit­ted a Lub­bock busi­ness­man charged with pay­ing bribes to ex-law­maker Car­los Uresti and a West Texas county of­fi­cial to land a lu­cra­tive med­i­cal ser­vices con­tract at a Pe­cos prison.

Ju­rors took about 13 hours over two days to find Ver­non “Trey” Farthing III, 45, not guilty of con­spir­acy to com­mit bribery and con­spir­acy to com­mit money laun­der­ing.

Farthing could have faced up to five years in fed­eral prison on the bribery con­spir­acy charge and up to 20 years on the money laun­der­ing charge if he had been con­victed.

Uresti, the for­mer San An­to­nio state se­na­tor who was in­dicted with Farthing, last month pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit bribery rather than stand trial.

Pros­e­cu­tors have said they will rec­om­mend that Uresti serve what­ever sen­tence he gets con­cur­rently with a 12-year prison term he re­ceived in an un­re­lated fraud case. Uresti, 55, did not tes­tify at Farthing’s trial.

Jimmy Galindo, 54, who was county judge for Reeves County from 1995 to 2006, also pleaded guilty to the bribery charge and took the stand dur­ing Farthing’s trial.

Uresti and Galindo will be sen­tenced sep­a­rately in Jan­uary.

Uresti and Galindo “should not sec­ond-guess their guilty pleas in this case be­cause Mr. Farthing was ac­quit­ted,” Se­nior U.S. District Judge David Ezra said af­ter read­ing the 12-per­son jury’s de­ci­sion. “The ev­i­dence, even though they were not on trial, was over­whelm­ing as to their guilt.”

Galindo tes­ti­fied he per­suaded Farthing to hire Uresti as a con­sul­tant at $10,000 a month so that Farthing’s com­pany — Physi­cians Net­work As­so­ci­a­tion — could get a con­tract in 2006 to pro­vide med­i­cal ser­vices to pris­on­ers at the Reeves County Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Pe­cos.

Galindo said he ad­vised Far-

thing to raise the price PNA would charge the county per in­mate, per day, to pay for the con­sult­ing agree­ment. The in­creased price came out of the county’s end. Galindo ne­go­ti­ated the con­tract on be­half of the county.

Uresti served as a con­duit to hide Galindo’s in­volve­ment, pros­e­cu­tors al­leged. The pair split more than $850,000 in kick­backs over the course of a 10-year con­tract that ended in 2016, pros­e­cu­tors said. Galindo did not seek re-elec­tion in 2006 and in­gra­ti­ated him­self with Uresti to do busi­ness with him, they added.

Ezra sur­mised the jury did not be­lieve Galindo’s tes­ti­mony.

“Mr. Farthing, this should be a les­son to you,” Ezra said af­ter the ver­dict. “You, at the very least, at the very least, in­volved your­self with some in­di­vid­u­als here who were, to say the least, ques­tion­able.”

An emo­tional Farthing told the judge he would never see him again.

“Well, I don’t mind see­ing you,” Ezra replied, spark­ing laughs in the court­room.

Farthing tes­ti­fied in his own de­fense Mon­day, say­ing he didn’t know the $10,000 a month con­sult­ing fee that PNA paid Uresti’s Turn­ing Point Strate­gies was be­ing split with Galindo.

“I didn’t have any idea what Uresti was do­ing with his money,” Farthing said. “I was aware that Galindo was work­ing for him, but I had no idea that money al­legedly was com­ing out of half of PNA’s check. He was do­ing all kinds of work for Uresti.”

Pros­e­cu­tors Joseph Black­well and Sean O’Con­nell said the case rep­re­sented a vi­o­la­tion of the pub­lic trust.

When a pub­lic of­fi­cial uses their po­si­tion to solicit some­thing of value for them­selves or some­body else, Black­well said at the be­gin­ning of the trial, “there is a cor­rupt­ing in­flu­ence over that of­fi­cial po­si­tion.”

Ger­ald “Gerry” Gold­stein, part of Farthing’s de­fense team, de­scribed Galindo as a “con artist” who sought to get out of other le­gal trou­bles by of­fer­ing up the bribery scheme to fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“It was a very hard-fought bat­tle,” said at­tor­ney Cyn­thia Orr, who also rep­re­sented Farthing. “We were very con­fi­dent in our client’s in­no­cence, and we’re so glad that the sys­tem worked.”

Black­well ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with the trial’s out­come but said it shouldn’t di­min­ish the suc­cess of the case over­all.

“A cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cial, Jimmy Galindo, was brought to jus­tice due to the ef­forts of the FBI and the IRS,” Black­well said. He also noted Uresti ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for his crim­i­nal con­duct.

Wil­liam Luther / Staff file photo

Lub­bock busi­ness­man Ver­non Farthing III leaves with his wife, Aurora, af­ter a hear­ing. “I didn’t have any idea what (Car­los) Uresti was do­ing with his money,” he tes­ti­fied.

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