Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Democrat Fund Raiser for Obama - Clinton Convicted of Fraud

NEW YORK (CNN) – A former Democratic fund-raiser who contributed to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has been convicted in federal court on four counts of campaign fraud — one for each year from 2004 to 2007.

Norman Hsu, 57, was indicted in 2007 after an investigation into his two investment companies. He was accused of running a massive fraud scheme.

Earlier this month, Hsu was found guilty on 10 counts of mail and wire fraud surrounding his investment practices. In convicting Hsu of campaign fraud, the same court court found that he was involved in illegal "conduit" campaign contributions from 2005 to 2007 that exceeded $25,000 — a finding that will be used to determine the length of Hsu's sentencing, which is scheduled for August 19.

Lev Dassin, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Hsu not only swindled investors out of at least $20 million but, according to the indictment, also told some investors to make campaign contributions to the candidates he supported, and suggested that their investments could be jeopardized if they didn't do as he asked.

He "also asked victims to contribute to specific candidates for federal office, and then directly reimbursed the victims for their contributions from his fraud proceeds, in violation of federal campaign finance laws," the indictment said.

When Hsu's activities came to light, the campaigns of Obama and Clinton — as well as others — either returned his donations or gave them to charity.

Hsu could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of mail and wire fraud, and a maximum of five years for each federal campaign finance violation. In addition to the prison time, Hsu also faces potential fines for his fraud and campaign finance crimes.

Hsu will likely also have to forfeit various bottles of wine and champagne from his New York City apartment, along with a saxophone autographed by former President Bill Clinton.

In September of 2007, Hsu was en route from California to Denver, Colorado, when he became ill on an Amtrak train and was taken to a hospital.

Later that day, FBI agents arrested him on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and he has been in jail since.

Those charges stemmed from an 18-year-old grand theft conviction in California. Hsu had posted a $2 million bond after he turned himself in to authorities in California on that conviction. But a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up for a bail reduction hearing the next week.

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