An Orange County woman has sued billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III for $70 million, alleging that the Broadcom Corp. co-founder reneged on his promise to support her financially for life and subjected her to violent and abusive behavior during the four years they lived together.
In her complaint, filed Jan. 8 in Orange County Superior Court, Melissa Montero said she was 34 and Nicholas was 50 when they met in January 2009. Montero eventually quit her job as a restaurant manager and moved in to his Newport Coast mansion, according to the lawsuit.
“Nicholas promised Montero 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,” her complaint alleges, stating that Nicholas went on to give her about $25,000 a month.
“In exchange, Montero gave up her own life and devoted her every waking hour to Nicholas and his needs and demands,” the lawsuit contends. It describes her as his “personal assistant, secretary, business advisor, life coach, confidante, nurse … social companion, household manager, social coordinator, stepmother to Nicholas’ children and liaison to Nicholas’ ex-wife.”
The lawsuit states that Montero sought a monogamous relationship and children with Nicholas but instead learned that he was romantically involved with another woman, to whom he was paying $125,000 a month. It also alleges that he abused an array of drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and nitrous oxide.
Montero began to use drugs with Nicholas, and his behavior became more erratic and abusive over time, her lawsuit states. It describes several incidents of the billionaire’s bizarre behavior, including one in which he “hit himself repeatedly in the forehead and the skull” with a cast he wore on an injured hand.
“He cut his forehead and scalp and started bleeding profusely,” the complaint states.
Montero and Nicholas split in October, according to the lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract, assault and battery and domestic violence.
Nicholas did not respond to voice and email messages to his charitable foundation and his attorney.
Nicholas stepped down as Broadcom chief executive in 2003. A few years later, he made headlines for alleged indulgences in drugs and prostitutes, and for an underground “lair” on his estate. The allegations, first reported by The Times, made their way into a federal indictment in 2008 that said he used and distributed controlled substances.
The charges were thrown out in 2010.