Fugitive Fundraiser Norman Hsu Caught In Grand Junction

FBI Agents Arrest Hsu For Unlawful Flight

A national fugitive is caught in Grand Junction.

Yung Yuen “Norman” Hsu, a well known fundraiser for the Democratic party, was wanted on federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Hsu was arrested around 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary's Hospital after the FBI found him. Hsu had apparently become sick while riding on an Amtrak train and was rushed to the hospital after it stopped in Grand Junction.

Amtrak said Hsu was on the California Zephyr with a ticket for Denver.

Hsu was listed in fair condition, hospital vice president Dan Prinster said. He declined to provide details of Hsu's ailment, other than to say that Hsu "was delirious (when he arrived) and had identification."

Hsu had been scheduled to appear in a California court Wednesday to turn over his passport and ask a judge to reduce 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. He had been charged with bilking investors out of more than $1 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Instead, Hsu failed to show up at the bail reduction hearing and a judge issued a new arrest warrant for him.

Hsu will be taken before a magistrate in Grand Junction when he is released from the hospital, to appear on the federal charges before the state extradites him to California.

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. Wednesday local time 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 night 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."

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 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.

Prosecutors say Hsu bilked investors out of $1 million by telling them he had a contract to buy and sell latex gloves, but he never purchased the gloves and had no contract to sell them.

He pleaded no contest in 1991 to a felony count of grand theft and was facing up to three years in prison, but he skipped town before his 1992 sentencing date. Investigators believed he'd fled to Hong Kong.

Years later, he resurfaced as a top fundraiser, donating $260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates since 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Though a top fundraiser for Clinton, he also donated to presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's Senate campaign in 2004 and to Obama's political action committee.

Other Democrats who divested their campaigns of Hsu's money include California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as Al Franken, a Senate candidate in Minnesota, Reps. Michael Honda and Doris Matsui of California and Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.