REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was a wanted man again after he failed to show up for a court date Wednesday and a judge issued a new warrant for his arrest.
Hsu, whose criminal past has roiled the campaigns of top presidential candidates, was scheduled to ask a judge to cut in half the $2 million bail he posted last week when he turned himself in after spending 15 years on the lam from a felony theft conviction.
Instead, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles ordered Hsu’s bail forfeited to the county and issued a new arrest warrant. If Hsu is arrested again, he will be jailed without bail this time.
Hsu, a Hong Kong native, was also supposed to turn over his passport Wednesday. Hsu’s prominent Silicon Valley criminal defense attorney, Jim Brosnahan, said Hsu failed to give the passport to the legal team on Monday.
“Mr. Hsu is not here and we do not know where Mr. Hsu is,” Brosnahan said outside court. Brosnahan said that “there was some contact” with Hsu a few hours before the scheduled 9 a.m. court appearance, but he declined to say how and who talked to Hsu.
Hsu pleaded no contest in 1991 to a felony count of grand theft, admitting he’d defrauded investors of $1 million after falsely claiming to have contracts to purchase and sell latex gloves. He was facing up to three years in prison when he skipped town before his 1992 sentencing date.
Prosecutors said they suspected Hsu fled the country then. But a few years ago, Hsu re-emerged in New York as an apparel executive and a wealthy benefactor of Democratic causes and candidates. Among them was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose presidential campaign designated Hsu a “HillRaiser” – a title given to top donors. Presidential contender Barack Obama also received contributions from Hsu for his 2004 Senate campaign and his political action committee, Hopefund.
Brosnahan said he didn’t know if Hsu returned to his Manhattan condominium or stayed in California after his five-hour jail stint Friday when Hsu turned himself in. He was released from jail after posting $2 million bail, which a judge refused then to reduce to $1 million.