The Life of Hsu

Hsu
Photo: Getty Images

We've been obsessed with Norman Hsu, the Chinese immigrant and would-be clothing entrepreneur who became one of the biggest Democratic fund-raisers in the nation, ever since he was arrested earlier this fall for running a "massive" Ponzi scheme. The Wall Street Journal today closes the book on Hsu with a lengthy and at times cinematic profile that begins with Hsu partying with politicos in his Soho loft and ends with his attempted suicide on a cross-country Amtrak. "Am I in jail?" a sleeping-pill-addled Hsu reportedly asked the conductor. "No, you're in Colorado," the conductor replied. But our favorite part of the retelling of the Life of Hsu was his interaction with a goon called "Shrimp Boy."

Raymond Chow, who acquaintances call Shrimp Boy, says he confronted Mr. Hsu in 1990 on behalf of friends who had invested in the glove business. Mr. Chow — who stands 5-foot-4, is heavily muscled, and has a dragon tattoo on his torso — says that at that time he was an enforcer for the Hop Sing Tong, an association that prosecutors have said was involved in crimes ranging from prostitution to heroin trafficking. Mr. Hsu suggested they collect money stashed at his house. Mr. Chow took the wheel of Mr. Hsu's new, white Toyota 4Runner; Mr. Hsu rode in the passenger seat.


Following Mr. Hsu's directions, Mr. Chow made an illegal turn and was pulled over by police. "I'm being kidnapped," Mr. Hsu told the officers, according to police reports. Mr. Chow and two associates were arrested. But Mr. Chow denied the charges and Mr. Hsu refused to testify, so the case was dropped. "He outsmarted me," recalls Mr. Chow, who abandoned his collection effort.

And promptly after that, he goes and throws a birthday party for Hillary Clinton. If that's not the American dream, we don't know what is.

How a Business Flop Became a Political Force [WSJ]
Earlier: Intel's coverage of Norman Hsu