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Marsy's Law founder has faced his own controversies

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 04. 2018 12:57AM
Henry T. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom, is seen in one of the tunnels running under his former California home. He also is the founder of a campaign for victims’ rights called Marsy’s Law for All, named after his sister who was murdered in 1983. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)

CONCORD - The leader of the national campaign to enshrine victims' rights in New Hampshire's Constitution was moved by a personal tragedy to pursue this crusade.

And over the past decade, Henry Nicholas III has dealt with, and been cleared following, federal investigations and court fights unrelated to that activism.

Nicholas' sister, Marsalee "Marsy" Nicholas, a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Supporters maintain that a week after the murder, Nicholas and his mother were confronted by the accused murderer, Kerry Conley.

The national Marsy's Law for All campaign said the family wasn't informed the accused murder had been released as the state had no obligation to notify the victims.

Conley was convicted of Marsy's murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Marsy's killer died in 2007, and a year later Nicholas started to spend of millions of dollars of his own money to win voter approval of constitutional protections for victims first in California and with six other states to follow.

Nicholas' $9 million helped convince voters in Ohio to become the latest state last November.

He's among the Fortune 500's richest men in America - making most of his fortune at Broadcom, a high-tech firm he co-founded in 1991.

After leaving Broadcom, he became an adjunct professor at the University of California at Irvine and later retired.

Nicholas has granted few public interviews and has not responded to a New Hampshire Sunday News request for one.

Nicholas first pursued Marsy's Law in his home state of California and despite overwhelming media opposition to the idea, the voters endorsed it in 2008.

In the same year, Nicholas faced two federal indictments, one concerning stock manipulation charges and the other for drug-related charges. Judge Cormac J. Carney threw out the financial fraud charges in December 2009, and the drug charges were dropped the following month.

Carney called the prosecution "shameful," accusing federal investigators of witness intimidation to try to win unjustified convictions. A Securities and Exchange Commission probe was also dropped.

Nicholas denied ever using illegal drugs but did voluntarily check himself into a Betty Ford alcohol-rehabilitation program for treatment in April 2008.

Amanda Grady Sexton, state coordinator of the Marsy's Law campaign in New Hampshire, said only through Nicholas' generosity could such a constitutional amendment effort here be possible. "There's no way we could do this without his support," Grady Sexton said.

"What Dr. Nicholas is doing is a tremendous service in terms of advancing the rights of victims."

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