Click to view image: '17c11383b90d-6a00e008c6b4e588340120a591f97a970b320pi.jpg'A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced former Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu to more than 24 years in prison for illegally funneling tens of thousands of dollars to U.S. political candidates and for his role in a Ponzi scheme.
The sentence of 292 months in prison, handed down in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Judge Victor Marrero, was less than the 30 years that the prosecution had requested.
Before Judge Marrero announced the sentence, Mr. Hsu quietly told him: "I know apologizing will not make things better for anyone, but I would still like to apologize to your Honor, and to everyone else."
Federal prosecutors said the apology was meaningless, arguing that Mr. Hsu wasn't as cooperative as he could have been.
Mr. Hsu's attorney, Alan Seidler, said his client wasn't surprised by the sentence. Mr. Seidler says his client intends to appeal, as Mr. Hsu disputes the amount of money lost to investors on which the sentence was calculated. Prosecutors have said that investors, collectively, lost at least $20 million.
Mr. Hsu was convicted in May of illegally funneling tens of thousands of dollars to U.S. political candidates. Also in May, he pleaded guilty to charges related to a Ponzi scheme that prosecutors said raised at least $60 million and swindled investors out of at least $20 million.
Mr. Hsu rose from a relatively unknown businessman to a prominent fund-raiser who pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Clinton and other politicians. However, that fund-raising proved to be his downfall after an August 2007 article in The Wall Street Journal raised questions about whether the contributions violated campaign-finance laws.
Prosecutors had alleged that Mr. Hsu pressured some investors in the Ponzi scheme between 2004 and 2007 to individually contribute thousands of dollars to candidates for president and Congress whom Mr. Hsu supported. Mr. Hsu illegally reimbursed some investors for making those contributions, skirting campaign-finance laws, prosecutors said.
In 2007, Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign agreed to return $850,000 in funds raised through Mr. Hsu. During the May trial, the government introduced a voice-mail message of support to Mr. Hsu left by Mrs. Clinton. "What am I going to do with you, Norman? You are working so hard for me," Mrs. Clinton said. "I just don't even know what to say anymore. I've never seen anybody who has been more loyal and more effective and really just having greater success supporting someone than you."
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