The lawyer for former fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu said today he will ask for a new trial on Hsu's 15-year-old grand theft conviction, and labeled his alleged confession a week ago to FBI agents on new federal charges as “a legal scandal.”
A freshly extradited Hsu, 56, appeared in an orange prison uniform this morning in San Mateo County Superior Court, twitching nervously as Judge Robert Foiles reset his bail status at no-bail.
Foiles agreed to Hsu's attorney Jim Brosnahan's request that the hearing be postponed one week while Brosnahan files a motion to withdraw Hsu's 1992 no-contest plea for grand theft. State prosecutors described the case as a Ponzi scheme involving the sale of latex gloves that defrauded investors of $1 million.
Brosnahan contends that because the original judge in the 1992 case has since retired, Hsu cannot now be legally sentenced by another judge.
Brosnahan said he would ask for a new trial.
“The case should be returned to the trial calendar,” Brosnahan said outside the courtroom. “He's presumed innocent.”
Brosnahan will also ask that the $2 million cash bail Hsu posted Aug. 31, before fleeing by train to Colorado, be returned.
Hsu will return to court Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Stephen Hall for a hearing on his attorney's motions.
Brosnahan lambasted FBI agents who reportedly interviewed Hsu two
days after his release from a Grand Junction, Colo., hospital, where hewas being treated after attempting suicide on the train, Brosnahan confirmed.
“I can confirm to you, that Mr. Hsu, under the pressure of all this, attempted suicide, by consuming (sleeping) pills,” Brosnahan said.
Brosnahan demanded to know if FBI agents recorded their conversation with Hsu, during which Hsu allegedly confessed to his role in another, $60 million Ponzi scheme involving high-end apparel from China, for which he was charged on Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.
“I think it is a legal scandal, and there have to be answers given,” Brosnahan stated. He claimed it was inappropriate for FBI agents to interview his client without a lawyer, while he was recovering from a suicide attempt and still under the influence of medication, according to Brosnahan.
The FBI agents' version of events “will be examined,” Brosnahan said. “They will be cross-examined, in New York, by lawyers. That I can absolutely guarantee.” Brosnahan would not confirm, however, that he would be representing Hsu in the federal case.
Supervising Deputy California Attorney General Ron Smetana said outside the courtroom he was eager to have Hsu's 1992 fraud case brought to a conclusion.
“It's now time to get the case resolved and get him sentenced,” Smetana said. Smetana said he would oppose Brosnahan's motion to get Hsu's $2 million bail returned.
“The bail could be used as restitution for the victims in this case,” Smetana offered. Also, he added, “If the federal charges are sustained, then the money is stolen and it would be inappropriate to give that back to Mr. Hsu.”
Brosnahan said Hsu was under enormous pressure when he skipped his court hearing in Redwood City on Sept. 5 and fled eastward by train.
“You can imagine what it's like when America decides you're guilty,” Brosnahan complained. “But now he's 'disgraced.' That's the way itworks.”
Brosnahan said he believed Hsu has friends and family in the Bay Area that are giving him support, “people that are worried about him, that care about him.”
— Bay City News