Despite earlier hopes that the competition for the September finalist spot in the “Stupidest Thing of the Year Competition” would produce yet another group that represented a true cross-section of societal stupidity, it looks like the competition will have a hard time beating the early front-runner.
When we last saw Norman Hsu, who was featured in a previous post, he had turned himself in to California authorities after some 15 years on the lam to avoid sentencing in a fraud case (to which he had pled guilty). Hsu, who posted bail in the amount of $2 million, was scheduled to appear in court on the morning of Wednesday, September 5th for a hearing on whether to reduce the bail to a paltry $1 million and to surrender his passport. Remember the “surrender his passport” part because we will return to it soon.
When it was time for Hsu to appear in court that morning the only people sitting at the defense table were Hsu lawyers. Hsu’s absence did not please the presiding judge who promptly ordered that:
- Hsu’s $2 million dollar bail be forfeited immediately
- A bench warrant be issued for Hsu’s arrest
The whereabouts of Norman Hsu remained a mystery for less than 48 hours when Hsu was found to be a patient in a Grand Junction, CO hospital after becoming ill on a passenger railroad train that was itself en route from California to Chicago, IL. Hsu was arrested by FBI agents on a charge of interstate flight to avoid prosecution and will be returned to California upon his release from the hospital.
The reasoning that led Norman Hsu, the mastermind behind a multi-million dollar investment scam (he pled guilty to one felony count), to flee California on the very day that he was due in court remains a mystery at this time. An even bigger mystery is why Hsu’s passport wasn’t confiscated before he was released on bail.
Here is a man (Hsu) who had been on the run for 15 years, who had amassed substantial financial assets during that time; who had raised substantial amounts of money for big-name Democratic politicians by dodging the campaign finance laws; who has built a record as a blatant scofflaw, and the presiding judge didn’t order that Hsu surrender his passport as a condition of being released on bail!
I don’t know which of the two was stupider: Hsu or the judge. Both men are now strong contenders in this month’s “Stupidest Thing of the Year.”