I managed to skip over this morning's LAT story about the company's former HR head agreeing to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with a federal probe into the manipulation of stock option grants. As part of the deal, Nancy Tullos has agreed to cooperate with investigators examining allegations that top Broadcom executives backdated stock options. The big question is whether she'll link any of the wrongdoing to Broadcom's founders, billionaires Henry Samueli and Henry T. Nicholas III. And the allegations involve more than backdating.
Nicholas, a major philanthropist as well, left Broadcom in 2003. Last year, his former administrative assistant Kenji Kato filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Nicholas required him to oversee supplies of cocaine and other drugs, pay prostitutes from a "petty cash" fund and conceal these activities from his wife and others. Nicholas' lawyer called the allegations "crazy" and contended that the civil suit was a $9-million extortion scheme. The charges have been sent to arbitration proceedings, which have yet to conclude. Robert Gunther, the former chief operating officer for Nicholas' holding company, pleaded not guilty last week to a felony charge of money laundering. The charge grew out of the federal Broadcom investigation. Court documents filed in the Gunther case show that other former aides have become cooperating witnesses in the investigation.