Former fugitive Democratic Party fundraiser Norman Hsu, who posted $2 million bail Friday after surrendering to authorities in San Mateo County in connection with a 1991 grand theft conviction, may have gone on the lam once again after failing to appear for a court hearing this morning in Redwood City.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles issued a no-bail warrant for Hsu's arrest at about 9:15 a.m.
“We do not know where he is as of this moment,” Hsu's attorney James Brosnahan informed the judge. Foiles had earlier stated that his office had received a call that Hsu was going to be “approximately 10 minutes late,” Foiles said.
Brosnahan added that efforts to retrieve Hsu's passport from hisNew York City condominium Monday, in compliance with the California Attorney General's Office request, were unsuccessful.
Deputy Attorney General Ralph Sivilla said outside the courthouse that he learned just before the court hearing that Hsu was not going to appear.
“In this business, it's never completely unexpected for someone not to appear in court,” Sivilla said.
According to Sivilla, Brosnahan told him Hsu was scheduled to fly into the Bay Area from New York this morning.
“(Brosnahan) indicated that (Hsu) had an air flight into Oakland at 5:30 in the morning,” Sivilla said. “From New York, I believe.”
Hsu, 56, was taken into custody in Redwood City on Friday, after being sought for 15 years following his failure to appear for his sentencing in San Mateo County in 1992, according to the California Attorney General's Office.
Hsu was a California resident at the time he was convicted of a “Ponzi-type” scheme to sell latex gloves that defrauded 20 investors throughout the state out of about $1 million, Attorney General's Office spokesman Gareth Lacy said.
Hsu agreed to plead no contest to one count of grand theft and under the terms of the deal, was to serve up to three years in state prison and compensate the victims, according to Lacy.
“We had a negotiated agreement that he would pay restitution to the victims and serve some time,” Lacy said.
However, Hsu failed to show up for his sentencing hearing and a judge issued a $2 million warrant for his arrest.
“We have no evidence that any restitution was paid,” Lacy added.
On Friday, Hsu turned himself in to a San Mateo County Superior Court judge and was jailed on $2 million bail.
According to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, Hsu posted the $2 million in cash later that day and was released from jail.
Foiles today declared Hsu's $2 million bail forfeited.
“There was some contact (with Hsu) a few hours ago,” Brosnahan said outside the courtroom, though he would not elaborate other than to say he was “not sure” where Hsu was when they spoke.
Brosnahan added that Hsu was in California at the time a legal assistant searched his New York City condominium.
“It was very clear all weekend that this court appearance was coming,” Brosnahan said.
“It could be a mistake. It could be something else,” Brosnahan said.
Despite the $2 million bail setting, Sivilla said the Attorney General's Office had initially requested Hsu's bail be set at $1 million, and that today's scheduled court hearing and the passport turn-in order would force him to appear.
“Those kind of protective measures we thought were enough,” Sivilla said.
Sivilla said the state Attorney General's Office would remain the lead prosecuting agency, but declined to discuss what agencies might be involved in a fugitive search.
“That's something that we'll have to deal with … in the upcoming few days,” Sivilla said.
If found, Hsu will return to jail in San Mateo County, Sivilla said.
— Bay City News