Democratic fund-raiser Hsu convicted

Norman Hsu was convicted of violating campaign finance laws. Norman Hsu was convicted of violating campaign finance laws.
Associated Press / May 20, 2009
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NEW YORK - Longtime fund-raiser Norman Hsu was convicted yesterday of violating campaign finance laws in a case that became an embarrassment to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other prominent Democrats he courted.

A jury in federal court in Manhattan deliberated less than three hours over two days before returning the guilty verdict. Hsu, already jailed following an earlier guilty plea, showed no reaction as he was led out of court.

"I think he expected it because it was quick," said his attorney, Alan Seidler. The lawyer said there would be an appeal.

Hsu, 58, had been accused of using clients of his fraudulent investment business, including actors and other political novices, as straw donors to make thousands of dollars in campaign donations. The scheme was designed to bypass rules limiting the amount any single individual or group can donate.

During the trial that began May 12, television actress Susan Chilman testified that she gave nearly $42,000 to Clinton and other Democratic candidates. Once she took out her checkbook, Hsu would simply give her a name and an amount, then later reimburse her, said Chilman, who has had roles in "Brothers & Sisters," "CSI Miami," and "ER" under the stage name Susan Pari.

Jurors also heard testimony from several other investors who recounted how Hsu showed off his political connections by decorating his home with photos of himself with marquee Democrats.

One witness testified she met President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, President Bill Clinton, Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, and Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island at fund-raisers she attended with him.

Prosecutors played a voicemail recording of Clinton, then a senator, effusively praising Hsu for his loyal support.