SAN ANTONIO - A judge ruled in favor of federal prosecutors and disqualified attorney Mikal Watts from representing Senator Carlos Uresti.
In May, Uresti was indicted on 11 charges over his alleged involvement in a Ponzi scheme. He also faces a separate indictment that alleges he was involved in a bribery scheme with a government contract.
Prosecutors argued that Watts had a conflict of interest representing the senator because his previous client, Denise Cantu, is one of their witnesses in the criminal case.
Watts argued he represented Cantu several years ago and there was no conflict representing Uresti.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad said the conflict of interest presented by prosecutors were too large to ignore and greater than Uresti's constitutional right to choose his own attorney.
Outside the federal courthouse, Watts made a statement about the judge's ruling.
"With due respect to Judge Bemporad who gave it two different hearings and a lot of his time in which we are appreciative, we believe that in a case involving the constitutional rights to ones counsel of choice, that in a case that is so close, it's the most exceedingly difficult case you've ever handled, that that should weigh in factor of keeping somebody's council of choice. A constitutional right that was taken away," Watts said.
The senator also made a statement to the media.
"Like I've said before, I'm completely innocent of these charges and I have one of the best, if not the best attorney in the country. I hope to be able to keep him. We're going to continue to fight these allegations. I know the community and the state of Texas know Carlos Uresti and what I'm about and whom I'm about so I'm looking forward to my day in court," Uresti said.
Uresti and Watts have 28 days to appeal the judge's decision.
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