Lurid charges dropped in Broadcom founder case

Drug charges have been dropped against Henry T. Nicholas III, co-founder and former CEO of chip giant Broadcom, bringing the scandal-packed case to a close.

Salacious charges in a federal case against Henry T. Nicholas III, co-founder and former CEO of chip giant Broadcom, have been dropped, bringing the scandal-packed case to a close.

Broadcom co-founder and former CEO Henry T. Nicholas III
Broadcom co-founder and former CEO Henry T. Nicholas III Broadcom

On Thursday, a judge threw out the remaining charges against Nicholas, granting a request by the prosecutor to dismiss drug-trafficking counts, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. This comes after the judge dismissed criminal charges connected to stock-option backdating against Nicholas and co-founder Henry Samueli.

Nicholas was indicted in 2008 on charges that he had provided cocaine and Ecstasy to friends and business associates. One of the more striking drug-related allegations centered on a flight to Las Vegas in which Nicholas' pilot allegedly had to resort to using an oxygen mask because marijuana smoke was clouding the cockpit, according to the Times report.

And in 2007 court documents made claims about a "secret and convenient lair" at Nicholas' Laguna Hills home in suburban Los Angeles with secret entries to indulge his "manic obsession with prostitutes" and "addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy."

The judge Thursday ruled that the government hadn't proved its case and also found that prosecutors had engaged in misconduct.

Broadcom was founded in 1991 by Nicholas and Samueli. The two first met in 1981 while working for defense contractor TRW, according to a history on Broadcom's Web site. Samueli specialized in communications systems design and Nicholas in chip design. Both were working on the Defense Department's Very High-Speed IC (VHSIC) program.

In 1988, when Samueli was teaching at UCLA's School of Engineering, he convinced Nicholas, his first Ph.D. candidate, to join him full-time at PairGain Technologies. In 1991, they formed Broadcom based on "their shared visions of cable and high-speed networking," according to Broadcom's Web site.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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