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Ex Says Broadcom Co-Founder Abused Her In $70 Million Lawsuit

Nicholas at the Nicholas Academic Center Graduation on June 11, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)
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An Orange County woman is suing Henry T. Nicholas III, the billionaire co-founder of tech manufacturer Broadcom, for $70 million. She claims he physically and emotionally abused her, and failed to honor his promise to support her financially for life. In her complaint, filed on Jan. 8 in Orange County, Melissa Montero alleges Nicholas "promised her that if she would quit her job and dedicate her life to him, he would provide her financial support and pay her expenses and other needs for the rest of her life," according to the L.A. Times. California recognizes promises of lifetime support as enforceable contracts.

As an exchange for her services, Nicholas promised her a hearty monthly payment of $25,000, according to the complaint. Among other things, the lawsuit asserts Montero was to be Nicholas' "personal assistant, secretary, business adviser, life coach, confidante, nurse," as well as his "social companion, household manager, social coordinator, stepmother to Nicholas' children and liaison to Nicholas' ex-wife."

Montero met Nicholas when she was 34. The two began a relationship of sorts, eventually culminating when Montero confessed how she wanted a monogamous relationship with children. Nicholas supposedly agreed.

The problem then, however, was Nicholas' then live-in girlfriend named Mary Smith, a former member of his legal team. One thing led to another, and Montero eventually quit her job as a restaurant manager and moved into Nicholas’ Newport Beach mansion, kicking Smith out in the process. The lawsuit claims Montero and Nicholas were a couple for six years, four of which they lived together.

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At Nicholas' mansion, Montero was apparently offered a front-row seat to the billionaire's deterioration into substantial drug abuse, according to the complaint, The OC Register reports. Montero claims Nicholas regularly used cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, nitrous-oxide and prescription painkillers. In 2008, Nicholas was indicted on charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. Those charges were dropped, along with securities fraud charges filed against Nicholas the same year.

The suit said that in drug-fueled fugues, Nicholas would abuse Montero verbally and physically, according to Courthouse News. She says he called him stupid, grabbed her and threatened to "terminate" her if she didn't go along with his actions. Nicholas reportedly disappeared for days, not responding to calls or texts.

As recompense, Nicholas said he would buy Montero a house near his mansion where she could seek refuge during his fugues, the suit claims.

When Montero attempted to flee, and begin constructing a life for herself apart from Nicholas, she says he texted her threatening to kill himself. Montero felt obligated to return.

The 27-page complaint says Nicholas "intentionally put himself in a position of power over [Montero] 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."

The trial is ongoing. The Times reached out to Nicholas' charitable foundation and attorney for comment, but have not received a response.

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