Hsu case pushed back to January

Attorneys traded barbs outside a Redwood City courtroom Friday after the case of disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was delayed until January.

At Hsu’s Jan. 4 court date, defense attorney James Brosnahan said he would argue to withdraw Hsu’s 15-year-old no-contest plea and have his $2 million bail returned to him. He said that Hsu should be able to enter a new plea, since authorities made no effort to find him during his years on the lam.

Brosnahan said Hsu, now 56, lead a very public life since 1992, when he fled after accepting a plea deal of three years in prison in connection with a San Mateo County grand theft case.

“All they would have had to do is go to a cocktail party and they could have arrested him,” Brosnahan said.

Supervising Deputy California Attorney General Ron Smetana took sharp exception to Brosnahan’s claim that Hsu wasn’t evading authorities. Hsu went to Hong Kong for several years before returning to the U.S. and reinvented himselfas a Democratic heavy-hitter. When Hsu disappeared after skipping his 1992 sentencing hearing, “it was a different world,” where one couldn’t simply enter a name into a search engine, Smetana said.

Smetana sarcastically suggested that perhaps he should have flown to Asia and checked through business indexes for the fugitive.

“I’m sure it should have been easy to find someone named Hsu,” he said.

Hsu, shackled and frail-looking, appeared briefly Friday before San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall before Hall granted the defense’s request to move the hearing to January.

“The state has waited 15 years, so waiting until January isn’t going to be a problem for anyone,” said Brosnahan outside of court.

Neither attorney would comment on speculation of a plea agreement. Hsu remains in custody without bail. A federal fraud case against him is expected to begin after the San Mateo County charges are resolved.

tbarak@examiner.com

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