Authorities arrest Democratic donor
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
SAN FRANCISCO ” Disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was arrested in Colorado late Thursday after he failed to show up for a court appearance related to a felony theft conviction.
FBI agents took Hsu into custody around 7 p.m. MDT at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler said in a statement. The circumstances surrounding Hsu’s arrest were not immediately clear.
Mesa County sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said the sheriff’s department and the Grand Junction Police Department assisted the FBI in the arrest, but declined to give any details. She referred questions to the FBI.
Hsu had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to turn over his passport and 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 the theft conviction.
Instead, Hsu failed to show up at the bail reduction hearing and a judge issued a new arrest warrant for him.
California Attorney General spokesman Gareth Lacy said Hsu’s lawyers told prosecutors Hsu arrived by charter jet at the Oakland airport about 5:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday and then wasn’t heard from again.
When it became apparent that Hsu had fled the state, California authorities sought the assistance of the FBI, whose agents arrested him Thursday on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, Schadler said.
Once he is returned to state custody, the federal charges will be dismissed, Schadler said.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell became the latest of many Democratic politicians to return or donate to charity Hsu’s election contributions.
Rendell had said last week he planned to keep nearly $40,000 of Hsu’s money even though he was wanted for failing to appear for sentencing after pleading no contest to a felony charge of bilking investors out of $1 million.
“Though Norman is my friend, and remains so, his failure to appear casts a new light on his assertions regarding the original case,” Rendell said in a statement before Hsu’s arrest Thursday. “As a result, I will follow other elected officials and donate the money he contributed to me to charity.”
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has said she plans to give to charity the $23,000 in donations she received from Hsu for her presidential and senatorial campaigns and to her political action committee, HillPac.
The growing flap over Hsu’s contributions prompted Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd to release a statement Thursday vowing “to refuse to accept or possess campaign contributions raised, solicited, or delivered by fugitives from justice.”
Hsu has said he believed he had resolved his legal issues, but that he would halt his work raising political money.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.