NEW YORK – The saga of the scandal-plagued Democratic fundraiser with ties to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took another strange twist after he mailed a suicide note last week to a legal organization.
A person who saw the letter said Thursday that the note from Norman Hsu explicitly stated that he "intended to commit suicide." The person declined to reveal the exact phrasing, but said it was not rambling in nature.
The individual spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The letter arrived at the New York offices of the Innocence Project as Hsu was in the midst of a bizarre legal odyssey stemming from a 1991 grand theft case. Hsu has been wanted as a fugitive for missing his sentencing in the case. He failed to show up for a bail hearing last week in California and was arrested at a Colorado hospital after being taken off an Amtrak train.
Hsu was a leading money "bundler" for Clinton, earning the title of HillRaiser for his efforts. Her campaign is returning $850,000 in contributions linked to Hsu.
Hsu was in custody in Grand Junction, Colo., where his attorney said he would waive extradition to California during a hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Hsu faces sentencing in California in a 1991 grand theft case.
Attorney James J. Brosnahan said in a prepared statement that Hsu "will return to California as soon as transportation is arranged by the authorities."
In Grand Junction, Mesa County prosecutor Pete Hautzinger said that if Hsu waived extradition, he would remain in jail until next week for another hearing. Hautzinger said he planned to request bail of at least $4 million.
Hsu was booked into jail Wednesday night after being released from St. Mary's Hospital. Officials have declined to say why he was hospitalized but emphasized Thursday he was not under suicide watch in jail.
Innocence Project officials would not provide the specific details of the letter, but spokesman Eric Ferrero said a FedEx package arrived at the group's Manhattan office last Thursday. A receptionist gave the letter to the executive director, Madeline DeLone.
"We were all concerned for his safety. We knew we needed to try to reach him right away. We wanted to make sure he was safe," said Ferrero.
They tried Hsu's cell phone, but there was no answer and the voicemail was full.
Innocence Project officials then tried to reach Hsu's attorney and faxed a copy of the letter to the California attorney general's office, which is handling the case.
"We sent the letter to law enforcement in California in the event they could help him in time and also because they were handling an active case there involving him," said Ferrero.
The letter was one page, typewritten and signed by Hsu. It was sent overnight delivery.
Details of the letter were first reported Thursday by The Wall Street Journal.
Hsu has been a benefactor of the Innocence Project, a legal group that helps prove prisoners' innocence through DNA testing.
"Norman Hsu has been a strong, committed supporter of ours for years. I believe he saw a report about our work and thought it was good work and worthy of supporting," Ferrero said.