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Broadcom Billionaire|Painted as an Abuser

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Broadcom billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III assaulted his girlfriend and broke his promise to financially support her for life, she claims in a $70 million lawsuit.

Melissa A. Montero sued Nicholas on Friday in Orange County Superior Court.

"Ms. Montero is a great person who did everything she could to help Henry Nicholas and save him from himself despite the challenges," her attorney Alan Greenberg told Courthouse News.

Though Nicholas kept breaking his promises to her, he kept luring her back because she loved him and was afraid for his well-being, the attorney said.

"It got to the point that she had to get out because of the promises made that he did not keep and the allegations of abuse and battery," Greenberg said.

"We made these allegations and will prove them in court. We have put them in the public domain, so it's not like we're asking him to pay money. This is not in any way an extortion attempt, but a way to enforce him to keep his promises and hold him accountable for his conduct."

In the 27-page complaint, Montero says Nicholas "intentionally put himself in a position of power over (her) by, among other things, convincing her to quit her job, move out of her apartment, cohabitate with him, and rely on him for food, clothing, shelter and every necessity of life. Once captive, Nicholas exploited Montero by subjecting her to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse."

His "abusive and violent behavior" not only breached his promises to financially support her for life and start a family with her, it inflicted severe emotional distress, entitling her to exemplary and punitive damages "in an amount sufficient to punish and make an example of him," the complaint states.

Nicholas, an electrical engineer, co-founded Broadcom in 1991 with fellow engineer Henry Samueli. Now a Fortune 500 company, Broadcom is one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers and one of the top 30 U.S. patent assignees, holding more than 11,250 U.S. patents. It reported earnings of $8.43 billion in 2014 and $2.19 billion in the third quarter of 2015, according to its website.

Nicholas is also known for his self-named foundation that works to improve communities by investing in youth sports, education, and medical research, and Justice for Homicide Victims in honor of his sister, who was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Nicholas also campaigned for Marcy's Law, which established a crime victim's bill of rights in California.

Nicholas and several Broadcom executives were indicted in 2008 on charges of stock fraud and options backdating. The charges eventually were dropped.

Also in 2008, a federal indictment was unsealed accusing him of distributing Ecstasy, cocaine, and methamphetamine at parties at his home in Laguna Hills, spiking people's drinks with drugs, hiring prostitutes for himself and Broadcom representatives, and using bribes and death threats to hide his illicit activities.

Those charges too were dropped.

Citing "court documents," the Los Angeles Times reported in July 2007 that a construction team had sued him for $150,000 in back wages, claiming Nicholas had them build a secret underground lair under his Laguna Hills mansion with hidden entrances to enable him to "indulge in his 'manic obsession with prostitutes' and 'addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy."

That suit was settled out of court. Nicholas' attorneys denied all of its allegations.


Montero's complaint paints a dark portrait of the eccentric billionaire.

Before meeting Nicholas, Montero says, she "took pride in her strong work ethic and ability to maintain financial independence," managing a major retail chain and later as an account manager specializing in residential mortgage origination.

After she lost her job in the Great Recession of 2008, she says, she started working as the manager of Château Lounge in Irvine.

Montero says she met Nicholas through a mutual friend while he was out on bail for the federal securities fraud and drug trafficking charges. At the time she was 34 and he was 50.

Since she did not follow the press about the indictments, Montero says, she believed Nicholas when he told her the charges were a conspiracy between his ex-wife and "an unscrupulous federal agent."

They met frequently throughout 2009 at private places, which Nicholas claimed was to protect Montero from involvement in the indictments. But she says the real reason he never took her to his home was because he had a live-in girlfriend referred to in the complaint as Mary Smith, a former member of his legal team.

Their relationship deepened over the next year, Montero says, and she told Nicholas her biggest dreams were to be in a "monogamous lifetime partnership and to have children." He told her he shared the same goals, but insisted that she quit her job because restaurant manager was not a high enough social status for his partner, according to the complaint.

Montero says she was reluctant to quit because it meant abandoning her independence, but Nicholas promised to take care of her financial needs for the rest of her life, so she agreed.

A year later, Nicholas booted Mary Smith from his home and Montero moved in. But what she believed was a demonstration of his commitment was just a ploy "to exercise complete control over Montero," the complaint states.

Little by little Nicholas isolated Montero from the outside world, not letting her get hair done at a beauty salon or do her own shopping, and made her change the way she dressed and wore wakeup to suit his tastes, "forcing her to relinquish her independence, [to] set the stage for the abuse that was to come," the complaint states.

In exchange for a $25,000 monthly allowance and having all of her needs met, Montero says, she "gave up her own life, and devoted her every waking hour to Nicholas and his needs or demands, whether personal, family, business, or charitable interests," serving as his personal assistant, life coach, confidante, nurse, household manager, and stepmother to his children, and other duties for the next four years.

A year after she moved in, Montero says, she discovered that Nicholas was a "serial drug abuser," addicted to cocaine, meth, narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin, and nitrous oxide, which she says he "kept at the house in 'scuba' sized tanks."

Over time, she says, Nicholas became "extreme, erratic, abusive and outrageous" to her. Among other things, she says, he would act paranoid and manic for days; verbally abuse her; explode in rage if she questioned his behavior; belittle her intelligence, appearance and prior employment; disappear for days without answering his phone and lie about where he was. Each cycle of violence was followed by expressions of remorse, gifts, and affection, Montero says.

After Nicholas sent her home early from a trip to Italy so he and a friend could spend another week to "binge on drugs and prostitutes," Montero says, she told him she could not be in a relationship with him if he was going to be self-destructive and hurtful toward her, and she demanded he help her find a job.

In attempt to win her back, Montero says, Nicholas promised to have children with her and buy her a "sanctuary house" near his mansion where she could go during his erratic moods, and reiterated his promise of lifetime financial support. Montero says she believed him and agreed to stay.

She soon regretted the decision, when he lost his temper and threw his cell phone at her head, missing her by inches, according to the complaint.

His behavior deteriorated, Montero says. One time he drove his minor daughter home after having several martinis and taking narcotic painkillers; he got "explosively angry" at her when she confronted him about his cocaine use and threatened to "terminate" her if she was not compatible with him; he beat himself in the head with a cast on his arm when she told him he was scaring her, and grabbing her forcefully by the arm when she tried to leave during an argument, according to the complaint.

Montero says she fled to a hotel and later got an apartment in her own name. But when she started rebuilding her life, she says, Nicholas sent her a text message indicating that he planned to commit suicide and she agreed to come back again to try to save his life.

Though he again lured her back with promises of family, quitting drugs, and establishing a charitable foundation for her to run and "inundated" her with flowers and expensive gifts, Montero learned that he was still abusing drugs, having affairs, and "did not wish to change," so she left him for good, the complaint states.

Nicholas seemed "calm and understanding" at first, but got increasingly angry when she refused to see him and threatened to stop financially supporting her, which he did when she would not cave to his demands, according to the complaint.

Montero says she lives in constant fear for her safety and has been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder based on the years of living with his abuse.

Since California law has determined that promises of lifetime support are enforceable contracts, Nicholas owed her more than $60 million for breaking his legally binding promises to Montero, the complaint states.

Nicholas's foundation did not immediately return comment requests emailed Tuesday afternoon.

Montero seeks $60 million for breach of contract, and punitive and exemplary damages and at least $10 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, and domestic violence.

She also wants a restraining order and a preliminary and permanent injunction against Nicholas.

Her attorney Alan Greenberg is with Greenberg Gross of Costa Mesa.

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