Much "A-Hsu" About Nothing?

Several Wall Street Journal reporters have dug deeply into the past of former fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu and found some fascinating information about his life both before and after his conviction for grand theft in 1992.

Apparently, Hsu has left a trail of unhappy investors, bankrupticies, a kidnapping, and many failed business ventures behind him:

Much about Mr. Hsu remains a mystery, most notably the source of the money for the donations that made him a favorite in Democratic circles. For years Mr. Hsu tapped a vein of fellow Asian-Americans, first to help seed startup businesses and lately to help feed his sudden passion for politics...
People who knew Mr. Hsu in Hong Kong remember him as a man with a magnetic personality who could walk into a crowded bar and instantly seem as if he knew everybody. He dominated a conversation. "He was a friendly guy -- social, humorous -- a very good salesman," says Ernest Ng, an old college friend who did business with Mr. Hsu and later fell out with him. Mr. Hsu's past, illuminated by documents fished out of storage at various courts and interviews with former partners and friends, is full of failed businesses, a kidnapping, lawsuits and bouts of financial ruin followed by hard-to-explain recovery. He charmed friends, relatives, and college classmates into investing in real estate, restaurant and apparel businesses, many of which failed, stranding investors.
If you read the entire article, you are left with the sense that Hsu, rather than being a bagman or spy for the Chinese or anyone else, is something of a pathetic fellow who has spent most of his adult life bilking friends and acquaintances out of as much money as he could. He did this in order to live a lifetsyle beyond his means and feed his passion for business start ups - most of which never got off the ground or failed soon after opening.

Hsu was convicted of running a con back in 1991 that bilked investors out of a million dollars. How many ponzi schemes has he run where he takes money from a later "investor" to pay off an early one? It seems to me that it is possible Mr. Hsu's entire life may have been one big con. If so, any talk of him being connected to the Chinese military or others doesn't ring true. Unless someone has something on him and was making him act as a conduit for funds to Democratic candidates, it would seem unlikely he was an agent for anyone.

Where did he get his money? The same places he always got it - firiends, family, acquaintances, people he befriended in some way. He was evidently very good at getting people to part with their money. Con men usually are. This is not to say he didn't break the law in his fundraising activities and I'm sure the Justice Department is going to go over his "bundling" with a fine tooth comb.

But when all is said and done, I think we'll find Mr. Hsu to be little more than a cheap hustler, a con man who got into political fundraising for self aggrandizement as well as the opportunity to meet other potential marks.
Several Wall Street Journal reporters have dug deeply into the past of former fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu and found some fascinating information about his life both before and after his conviction for grand theft in 1992.

Apparently, Hsu has left a trail of unhappy investors, bankrupticies, a kidnapping, and many failed business ventures behind him:

Much about Mr. Hsu remains a mystery, most notably the source of the money for the donations that made him a favorite in Democratic circles. For years Mr. Hsu tapped a vein of fellow Asian-Americans, first to help seed startup businesses and lately to help feed his sudden passion for politics...
People who knew Mr. Hsu in Hong Kong remember him as a man with a magnetic personality who could walk into a crowded bar and instantly seem as if he knew everybody. He dominated a conversation. "He was a friendly guy -- social, humorous -- a very good salesman," says Ernest Ng, an old college friend who did business with Mr. Hsu and later fell out with him. Mr. Hsu's past, illuminated by documents fished out of storage at various courts and interviews with former partners and friends, is full of failed businesses, a kidnapping, lawsuits and bouts of financial ruin followed by hard-to-explain recovery. He charmed friends, relatives, and college classmates into investing in real estate, restaurant and apparel businesses, many of which failed, stranding investors.
If you read the entire article, you are left with the sense that Hsu, rather than being a bagman or spy for the Chinese or anyone else, is something of a pathetic fellow who has spent most of his adult life bilking friends and acquaintances out of as much money as he could. He did this in order to live a lifetsyle beyond his means and feed his passion for business start ups - most of which never got off the ground or failed soon after opening.

Hsu was convicted of running a con back in 1991 that bilked investors out of a million dollars. How many ponzi schemes has he run where he takes money from a later "investor" to pay off an early one? It seems to me that it is possible Mr. Hsu's entire life may have been one big con. If so, any talk of him being connected to the Chinese military or others doesn't ring true. Unless someone has something on him and was making him act as a conduit for funds to Democratic candidates, it would seem unlikely he was an agent for anyone.

Where did he get his money? The same places he always got it - firiends, family, acquaintances, people he befriended in some way. He was evidently very good at getting people to part with their money. Con men usually are. This is not to say he didn't break the law in his fundraising activities and I'm sure the Justice Department is going to go over his "bundling" with a fine tooth comb.

But when all is said and done, I think we'll find Mr. Hsu to be little more than a cheap hustler, a con man who got into political fundraising for self aggrandizement as well as the opportunity to meet other potential marks.