The verdict came after 2 ½ hours of deliberations in the criminal trial of Hsu, 58, in federal court in New York. It follows his guilty plea on May 7 to cheating investors out of more than $20 million in a Ponzi scheme, for which he may face 30 years in prison.He arranged big donations to political campaigns from people who had no ability to pay such amounts, and he was doing so while as a fugitive from California authorities. In fact, he was operating right under their noses in plain sight as he was busy hobnobbing and rubbing shoulders with the power brokers of the Democratic party, and had even provided funding to then candidate Barack Obama.
Hsu was convicted of four counts of campaign finance fraud in a trial that lasted six days. Defense attorney Alan Seidler said he would appeal the jury’s verdict that Hsu secretly repaid about $98,000 to political donors from 2004 to 2007.
“He was pretty calm, actually,” Seidler said of Hsu as the jury read the verdict.
Prosecutors said Hsu used campaign donations to win accolades from prominent politicians, which he used to lure new investors into his Ponzi scheme. They offered evidence that he made illegal reimbursements to six of his investors who contributed funds to politicians including then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and then-U.S. Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee.
“Norman Hsu is directing where donations are going to go,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Willscher told jurors in closing arguments yesterday.
Hsu didn’t testify at the trial. Seidler said Hsu’s investors made contributions on their own to win admission into an investment pool paying as much as 24 percent returns in 12 weeks. He’ll be sentenced on Aug. 19. Prosecutors contend that Hsu deserves more than 30 years in prison, Seidler said.
The verdict caps a long legal odyssey for Hsu, who is being held in prison. In 1991 he pleaded no contest in California and was convicted of stealing $1 million from investors in a scheme involving latex gloves. He failed to appear for sentencing.
In his 15 years as a fugitive, he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates, including Clinton, and became one of the biggest political donors in the country, prosecutors said.
At the trial, prosecutors said Hsu attracted investors by telling them of his seemingly close connection to politicians they admired. The government presented evidence that Hsu was among Clinton’s top fundraisers and claimed to have flown on a private plane with former President Bill Clinton.
Hsu has already been convicted of running a Ponzi scheme, which helps explain how Hsu was able to guarantee those results to his "investors" (aka suckers).