Another one bites the dust!

Maher, Steve (SD-MS) SMAHER at GI.COM
Wed Feb 18 10:53:00 MST 1998


Democratic Fund-Raiser's Indictment Is Imminent

The New York Times
February 18, 1998 David Johnston

       By DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has prepared an
indictment accusing a Democratic fund-raiser, Maria Hsia, of
lying about her role in organizing a 1996 event at a Buddhist Temple in
California attended by Vice President Al Gore and other events,
law-enforcement officials and Ms. Hsia's lawyer said Tuesday.

The officials said a federal grand jury investigating campaign financing
could return an indictment as soon as Wednesday. Ms. Hsia lives in
California, and, unlike some important figures in the case, has stayed
in the United States instead of leaving the country as the furor over
fund-raising irregularities ignited in late 1996.

Ms. Hsia's lawyer, Nancy Luque, said Tuesday that prosecutors had
advised her that an indictment was imminent. Ms. Luque said her client
would wage a vigorous legal battle. "I admire Maria's courage and
discipline as she intends to meet the charges," she said. "I have no
doubt that she will be fully vindicated."

The indictment will focus on the role Ms. Hsia played in arranging a
Democratic fund raising and political event at a Buddhist Temple in
California, where donors were illegally reimbursed for making
contributions to the Democratic National Committee.

Ms. Luque said the case was weak. "The government can't back up the
charges in this indictment with any evidence," Ms. Luque said. "Maria
had absolutely nothing to do with the reimbursement of temple monastics.
By attempting to use the criminal law to prosecute this conduct, the
government is either letting itself be used for political purposes or
abdicating its responsibility to fairly judge the facts and the law."

The temple event occurred on April 29, 1996, at the Hsi Lai Temple in
Hacienda Heights, an event that Ms. Hsia helped organize. It featured
Gore, who has said he did not know that the event was a fund-raiser.

The event raised $166,000, which was later returned by the Democratic
National Committee. But a draft report prepared by Republicans on the
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which investigated campaign
finance abuses in the 1996 election, said that Democratic fund-raisers
were disappointed with the initial amount raised and arranged to have an
additional $55,000 contributed through the temple.

The $55,000 came in $5,000 checks written to the DNC by temple nuns
and monks who were illegally reimbursed with temple funds. It isthese
donations that are likely to be the focus of any indictment. Under
federal election law, it is illegal to donate money on someone else's
behalf. The report said Ms. Hsia played a role in arranging the laundered
donations, which Ms. Luque disputes.

Ms. Hsia has long been associated with the Hsi Lai Temple, which is
affiliated with Fo Kuang Shan, a Buddhist sect in Taiwan. In 1989, she
arranged for Gore, who was then a U.S. senator, to visit the order's
headquarters in Taiwan.

Ms. Hsia has long been a focus of the Justice Department's criminal
investigation. As an associate of high profile fund-raisers like John
Huang, she fell under scrutiny during a Senate investigation last year
into how the Democrats financed President Clinton's re-election.

An indictment against Ms. Hsia would be the second obtained by the
Justice Department campaign finance team, which has been under heavy
fire from Republicans for taking too long to bring charges in the
scandal. Two weeks ago prosecutors obtained an indictment charging two
Democratic fund-raisers, Yah Lin Trie and Antonio Pan, with illegally
concealing the source of thousands of dollars in donations to Democrats.

On Tuesday government officials said that the indictment will probably
not directly accuse the temple or any of its officials with wrongdoing.
Moreover, the indictment is unlikely to make any reference to the swirl
of allegations that emerged last week in the Republicans' Senate committee
draft report about whether Ms. Hsia's activities aided the Chinese
intelligence service. The report specifically referred to her as an agent
of the Chinese government.

"The committee would do well to review this indictment because they will
find no suggestion of Ms. Hsia having been an agent of the Chinese
government," Ms. Luque said.

Ms. Hsia was born Hsia Ling in Taiwan in 1951. She came to the United
States on a student visa in 1973 and became a permanent resident in 1975.
Not long after her arrival in the United States, she began working at a
law firm that helped immigrants arrive in the United States -- a practice
that Ms. Hsia later continued on her own.

She became a U.S. citizen in 1986. Though not a lawyer, she held jobs at
several law firms specializing in immigration, working as a consultant.
She went into business for herself, creating Hsia & Associates in 1991.
She has helped Taiwanese and Chinese clients get U.S. visas, and she
travels to Beijing several times a year.



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