May 19th, 2009
12:58 PM ET
14 years ago

Former top Democratic fund-raiser convicted of campaign fraud

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Norman Hsu has been convicted on four counts of campaign 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.

–CNN's Jennifer Rizzo and Mythili Rao contributed to this report.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Norman Hsu • President Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Mississippi Mike

    When Obama and Clinton took his money it was already well-known that he was involved in illegal activities. They only gave it back after the money became a political liability. That's some code of ethics they've got.

    May 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. David NYC

    Crooks all of them...
    Including Obama... They are coming for him soon.

    May 19, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Part of ACORN?

    May 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Jon in CA

    "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. "

    WHY do politicians give tainted donations to charity?? They should go back to the fleeced in these schemes!

    Obama sent his tainted donations to ACORN. Anyone surprised?

    May 19, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hey they got one Democrat, lets all forget now with all the Republican ones they caught, starting with Enron...

    May 19, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Moderate Democrat

    The difference between Republicans and Democrats: Democrats actually bring to justice those in their midst that act unethically and/or break the law. Case in point, the masterminds that have committed mass genocide, Bush/Cheney/Rove are still at large, while people guilty of 'Fraud' are brought to justice.

    It's right to bring the guilty to justice, and as such, a FULL BLOWN investigation of the Bush administration is in order! Include Pelosi in it. Include those who voted for the Iraq war, but be certain to identify if the votes FOR the war were based on evidence MALICIOUSLY 'manufactured', despite the truth, by the true mob bosses, Bush, Cheney and Rove.

    May 19, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Claudia in Houson

    Hillary Clinton and President Obama have already return those funds which I will assume was inadvertently left out in this reporting.

    May 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Hey! What happened to the days when politicians would take care of their "big contributors" by helping them avoid prosecution? Especially if said politicians got elected? My goodness, this is certainly NOT the CHANGE I voted for! lmao!!!

    May 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. J.P.

    What did the president know and when did he know it?

    Can we get a special council to look into the zip codes of the truck loads of cash the president received in the form of unmarked 10s and 20s?

    May 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Hugo

    Birds of feather flock together, make room in jail for the rest of the open handed and open ended political payoff recipients! Bribes are bribes, and we are sick of it!

    May 19, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. b franklin

    More good news from the squeaky clean Democrats.

    May 19, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Just like I've said all along, there's plenty of Bernie Madoff types out there and to think differently would be foolish! These greedy, low life, thieves should be weeded out and exposed! Or better yet, locked in a room and let each and every person that these scum ripped off go in one at a time (with any blunt instrument they desire) and let them go to town on these greedy COWARDS!

    May 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. J.Crobuzon

    "Fund raising?" It was money laundering pure and simple, and he wiped his hands on liberal campaigns before and after the process. Lock him up for a long time.

    May 19, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz,VA

    And he has no afiliation with

    May 19, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. New Yorker

    Don't worry Hsu, just like our former Democratic governor Spitzer, your cronies will help you avoid doing time; it's one of the perks for supporting the liberals.

    May 19, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Mary

    here we go, The Democrats didn't NO nothing about this Man's dealing What a Bunch of liers, Hillary Clinton and Obama are lieing right in our faces, and laughing all the way to the Bank, nd letting this man take their fall. the Media and The Democrats an the president thinks we are retarted, they have shown this time and time again, I dont trust any one of them as far as I can spit,

    May 19, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Obama Victim

    a corrupt democrat?? next you will be telling me there in gambling in Casa Blanca..............

    May 19, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. JB

    Funny there isn't 300+ comments on this article.. I wonder why??? Maybe, just maybe it's because he is a Democrat..

    I love it here.. woo hoo So much space..
    I can make snow angels here

    May 19, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. TCM

    Now....for ACORN....

    May 19, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Bill in California

    WOW, WHAT A SHOCKER! A democrat fundraiser who is crooked. Maybe the new administration can use him!

    May 19, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Hsu me

    How do we know the contributions were returned or given to charity? What charity? I would like to see the records on that. Call me skeptical, but I'll belive when some reporter actually does their JOB and tracks it down! Highly unlikely.....

    May 19, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Dan, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    All prisoners and all interrogations should be video streamed live on the 'net so this never happens again. Cheney counting the money he's stolen from American pockets should also be video streamed so that never happens again, either!

    May 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |