updated 1/4/2008 3:38:12 PM ET 2008-01-04T20:38:12

A judge on Friday sentenced disgraced political donor Norman Hsu to three years in state prison after rejecting the one-time Democratic rainmaker's bid to throw out a 16-year-old fraud conviction.

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Hsu's lawyers had asked Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall to dismiss his 1992 no-contest plea, arguing his right to a speedy trial was violated because authorities weren't actively pursuing him during his years as a fugitive. They could easily have arrested Hsu, his lawyers argued, at one of the fundraisers he hosted in California for prominent local politicians.

Hsu also faces federal fraud charges in New York.

His troubles began dogging Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other big-name Democrats last summer when news reports revealed he was a fugitive who fled the state before he was sentenced for the 1992 fraud conviction. He turned himself in on Aug. 31 — then fled again.

He was recaptured in September in Colorado after he tried to kill himself by overdosing on drugs aboard an eastbound Amtrak train. Hsu has since been held without bail in a Redwood City jail.

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