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Correction to This Article
The Trail item gave an incorrect first name for Beverly LaHaye, the wife of author Tim LaHaye.
The Trail

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

FRAUD INDICTMENT

N.Y. Goes After Hsu

The U.S. attorney in Manhattan indicted former Hillary Rodham Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu yesterday, laying out what prosecutors described as a "massive fraud scheme" that allegedly left investors in Hsu's fictitious clothing businesses with losses of $20 million.

The indictment charges Hsu with six counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud and three counts of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act. He allegedly squeezed contributions out of his investors and, in some cases, repaid donors who wrote checks to Hsu's chosen candidates.

Hsu remains in a California jail on separate fraud charges there, but prosecutors in New York said they expect him to be transferred there "in coming weeks."

Hsu's California attorney, James J. Brosnahan, was not available to comment.

The 13-page indictment offered few new details about the allegations leveled against Hsu after news reports first revealed this summer that he was wanted on outstanding fraud charges in Northern California. The document describes a complex Ponzi scheme in which Hsu allegedly collected more than $60 million in investments for a clothing business, using each new investment to pay off a previous one.

In all, the indictment said, the victims lost at least $20 million. In addition to leveling the indictment, prosecutors sought to seize all of Hsu's assets. Among the items listed in the indictment: "A saxophone autographed by a former President of the United States."

-- Matthew Mosk

ILLEGAL WORKERS

Romney Fires Crew

Less than a week after former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney defended himself during a debate against accusations that he had hired a company that used illegal immigrants to care for his lawn as governor, his campaign announced that he fired the same lawn-care company for again employing illegal immigrants.

In a statement, Romney said that he had given the company a second chance a year ago, allowing it to continue work at his house in Massachusetts with the understanding that it would not employ undocumented workers.

His statement yesterday came after the Boston Globe presented evidence to the campaign that the lawn-care company employed illegal immigrants.

"The company's failure to comply with the law is disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action," Romney said in the statement.

He also released a copy of the short letter of termination he sent to Ricardo Saenz of Community Lawn Service.

"Given your company's disregard for the clear instructions provided on this issue last year, I am forced to terminate my contract with your company, effective immediately," the letter stated. "My family will no longer utilize your services and all scheduled visits are cancelled as of today. I am disappointed that our relationship must end on this note, but we simply cannot tolerate your inability to ensure that your employees are legally permitted to work in the United States."

The decision highlights a key issue in the Republican presidential nominating contest, and a particular concern for Romney, who has been battling former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani over their immigration records for weeks.

Giuliani was particularly harsh during last week's YouTube-CNN debate, when he berated Romney for having employed illegal immigrants. Romney said he never knowingly hired illegal immigrants, but instead hired a company that was later found to have been employing undocumented workers.

What Romney did not say was that he had given the company a second chance.

-- Michael D. Shear

CHRISTIAN VIEWS

Pastors for Huckabee

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee appears to have consolidated Christian conservative activists in Iowa who had not already signed on with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's campaign earlier this year, picking up the endorsements of dozens of pastors from the Hawkeye State.

In a news conference at his Des Moines headquarters, Huckabee accepted not only the support of many major religious activists in the state, including Chuck Hurley, who runs a conservative policy group in the state, but also the official backing of evangelical author Tim LaHaye, another influential conservative activist, and his wife Barbara. The LaHayes had been quietly backing Huckabee for weeks, even helping organize a conference in Des Moines this week where the former Arkansas governor was the only candidate who spoke.

"I urge all Christians . . . to go to your caucuses on January 3rd and vote for Mike Huckabee," LaHaye declared.

LaHaye said Huckabee would help "restore our nation's commitment to biblical values."

And Huckabee is not shy about voicing his own values. At the endorsement event, Huckabee was asked his views on intelligent design.

"I believe in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth," he said to loud applause from the pastors.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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