Fundraiser Norman Hsu Fails To Appear For Bail Hearing
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Sep. 5, 2007 (KGO) -- A controversial Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive again, after failing to appear in a Redwood City courtroom for a bail hearing.
A judge issued a new warrant for Norman Hsu's arrest. He surrendered last Friday on grand theft charges. Hsu had been a fugitive for more than 15 years.
There was a hint something was wrong when Norman Hsu's attorney Jim Brosnahan arrived without his client.
In court, he told the judge Hsu had disappeared.
"We do not know where he is as of this moment. We are hopeful he will appear in court today, but we do not have any immediate, current basis to believe that," said Brosnahan.
On Friday, when Hsu surrendered, the judge ordered his attorneys to get his passport. Brosnahan said Hsu told him his passport was in his home in New York.
"The legal assistant did go to the condominium on Monday and was there for about 90 minutes, following the directions of Mr. Hsu to find the passport, but he did not find it," said Brosnahan.
The judge revoked Hsu's two million dollar cash bail and issued an arrest warrant.
"It will be a no bail bench warrant in light of the circumstances," said Judge Robert Foiles.
In 1991, Hsu pleaded no contest to grand theft charges in San Mateo County that would have sent him to state prison for three years.
He was charged with running a ponzi scheme in a latex gloves business, which bilked investors out of one million dollars.
He skipped out the day he was to be sentenced. He surfaced about three years ago, becoming a top donor to Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton.
We asked Deputy Attorney General Ralph Sivilla why his office would agree to any kind of bail for a potential flight risk like Hsu.
"Well, we agreed to a large bail. Two million dollar bail. We had agreed for him to give up his passport. There was those circumstances that seem to suggest that he would remain in the country," said Sivilla.
Brosnahan hoped it was a mistake and that Hsu would still appear during the day.
"We don't know if that's going to happen or not," said Brosnahan.
We asked if he was going to continue to wait.
"You always ask the best question. That's a hell of a question," said Brosnahan.
Hsu did not appear Wednesday afternoon either. The two million dollars in forfeited bail will be held for now, in case a bounty hunter gets Hsu or he returns and cuts a deal.
Otherwise, it's county property.
Unusual for a high profile defendant to skip bail twice
Criminal law professor Robert Talbot is asking a question that's on the minds of many -- why wasn't Hsu held in custody until he gave up his passport?
"Leaving him with his passport and him coming from Hong Kong was not a good decision. They could have taken his passport as a condition of bail, before they let him out on bail," said Talbot.
Hsu surfaced about three years ago, and became a top donor to Democratic candidates.
Deputy Attorney General Ralph Sivilla says they tried at first to find him, but were unsuccessful.
"The two were not put together. The bench warrant, as well as his criminal past, were not put together."
Professor Talbot says they obviously didn't look too hard.
"There's so little that you can do that it's not going to be in some database, that if somebody was looking very seriously for him, they should have turned him up."
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