Hsu going to California
September 20, 2007
GRAND JUNCTION ” Disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, wanted in California on a 15-year-old felony theft conviction, agreed Wednesday to return to the state without a fight.
Hsu appeared in court, his hands cuffed and his ankles shackled, as he read legal documents waiving his rights and signed four copies of the paperwork. He also answered Judge Brian Flynn’s questions about giving up his right to fight extradition.
During the course of the questioning, Flynn asked Hsu, “Are you thinking clearly this morning?”
Hsu responded, “Yes, your honor.”
Flynn also asked him if anyone was forcing him to give up his rights and Hsu said no.
Flynn said authorities usually arrive within 10 days to take custody of an extradited individual, but district attorney Pete Hautzinger said he expects San Mateo County authorities to arrive today to take Hsu back to California.
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Hsu was arrested in Grand Junction on Sept. 6 after he failed to show up for a court appearance in California for a 1991 grand theft case that resulted in a conviction the next year.
Hsu raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and others until the recent disclosure of his 1991 case turned him into a major embarrassment.
He was a leading money “bundler” for Clinton, earning the title of “HillRaiser” for his efforts at collecting donations. Her campaign is returning $850,000 in donations linked to Hsu and promising stricter scrutiny of donors.
His saga took another strange twist last week with the revelation that he had mailed a suicide note to the New York office of the Innocence Project, a legal group that helps prove prisoners’ innocence through DNA testing.
A Hsu spokesman said Wednesday that he had intended to appear for his court date in California but may have mistakenly boarded a train out of state. Jason Booth said Hsu was “sick and confused” and may have thought he was boarding a Bay Area Rapid Transit subway when he instead caught an Amtrak train.
“That’s what appears to be how it happened,” Booth said Tuesday. “He was disoriented at the time. … We believe he suffered a psychological, mental, or physical breakdown. How that was caused I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.”
Hsu boarded an Amtrak train in the Bay Area in California about an hour and a half after arriving there by charter plane Sept. 5 and had a ticket for Denver when he apparently fell ill in western Colorado and had to be hospitalized.