Sex, Drugs and Marsy’s Law

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I get all agitated whenever somebody from somewhere else dumps a whole lot of money into a North Dakota political campaign. I just can’t stand not knowing who those people are, and why they want to spend a bunch of money in North Dakota.

So I got curious today when I read the headline on Mike Nowatzki’s Forum News Service story that said “California man donates $1M to N.D.  Marsy’s Law supporters; 44,000 signatures submitted to get measure on ballot.”

Huh? Why would someone send a million dollars to North Dakota to finance a ballot measure campaign? Who was he? I’ll get to that in a minute. First, Marsy’s Law.

The Marsy’s Law North Dakota ballot initiative is the brainchild of Kathleen Wrigley, wife of North Dakota’s Lieutenant Governor, Drew Wrigley. It’s an attempt to put a victim’s rights provision in the North Dakota Constitution. Mrs. Wrigley’s interest stems from the fact a court in Pennsylvania refuses to execute the man who killed her brother, a rookie policeman who was shot making a traffic stop. She and her family want the man put to death. A judge has ruled he is intellectually incompetent, so he cannot be executed, but will spend the rest of his life in prison. Following the judge’s ruling last year, Kathleen Wrigley told The Forum “It’s the end of the road, for sure. There’s not one more thing we can do as a victim’s family.”

Wrigley’s plight caught the attention of the California fellow, Henry Nicholas, a computer industry billionaire who shares a fate similar to Kathleen Wrigley—his sister was stalked and killed by her boyfriend, leading Nicholas to fund a ballot initiative in California called “Marsy’s Law,” which put a victim’s rights provision in the California Constitution. He sent Kathleen a million dollars—so far—to do something similar in North Dakota.

Pretty much the entire legal community in North Dakota has pooh-poohed the idea, saying it is not necessary to put things in the Constitution that are already covered in state laws. And that there are no problems with a victim’s rights in North Dakota.

Well, Kathleen spent some of the money to hire 30 paid signature gatherers, and they turned in enough signatures yesterday to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall. I signed it. I’ll sign any petition to put something on the ballot for North Dakotans to vote for or against. My signature gatherer was an obvious meth freak, talking to herself in the parking lot of Cash Wise Foods in Bismarck one chilly Spring morning. Cheerful, though.

So who’s this guy Henry Nicholas, who’s signing her paycheck? Well, he’s pretty famous in California. He’s 56 years old, and he is ranked number 236 on Forbes list of the richest people in America. He founded the computer chip-making company Broadcom, from which he is now retired, with a net worth of a couple billion dollars.  But he has a deep, dark past.

According to published reports in various west coast publications, Nicholas

  • Hired prostitutes for himself and his customers
  • Used cocaine, methamphetamines, Ecstasy, prescription painkillers, and more
  • Spiked the drinks of fellow business people without their knowledge
  • Built a “lair” underneath his home that allowed him to escape his wife and children to immerse himself in a non-stop party featuring cocaine, ecstasy, Viagra, speed, prostitutes and assorted hangers-on.
Melissa and Henry in their happier days.
Melissa and Henry in their happier days.

Nicholas most recently made news in January of this year when his girlfriend, a 40-something named Melissa Montero, filed a $70 million lawsuit against him, alleging he abused her emotionally and physically and then broke a promise to take care of her financially for life. The case is in its early stages. It should be an interesting one.  Melissa (interesting coincidence, eh?) had been with him from 2010 until last fall, when she moved out, fearing for her safety. Nicholas cut off her $25,000 monthly allowance. That prompted her lawsuit.

Melissa entered the scene after Nicholas’ divorce from his first wife, Stacey Nicholas, after a stormy relationship in the marriage’s last few years. In 2001, according to a story in the OC Weekly, a southern California newspaper, Stacey “found her husband at the warehouse high on drugs and having sex with a prostitute, according to court documents and Nicholas’ own admission (that follows).”

“A few days later, in an 1,800-word email to Stacey, Henry admitted, “It was 3:00 a.m. I was exhausted, depressed, suffering from ecstasy come-down, and at the end of my capacity to rationally think. I did mention that you saw me with another woman in ‘bed’ and that I had spent a solid week abusing drugs after my Easter ‘all nighter’ to prepare for a huge acquisition.” He expanded on the dread he’d felt at Beaver Creek. “During my call I was experiencing ‘panic attacks’ and my hands were shaking.” It only got worse. “I had left the ‘Easter torture session’ in Beaver Creek and was immediately subjected to 40 different disasters at once,” he writes. “I have never had so many things converge at once, and never after such a physically and emotionally debilitating one as the 26 hour Easter Day Ericsson/Mobilink call. During that week, I got only a few hours of sleep, and sustained myself by alternating huge quantities of caffeine and ephedrine. I also alternated smaller amounts of coke and crystal (methamphetamine).”

In October 2002, Stacey Nicholas filed for divorce after 15 years of marriage.

The stories about Nicholas’ underground sex and drug lair, the multi-million dollar man-cave of all man-caves, are all over the Internet, like this one in The Los Angeles Times, for example, which reported on an indictment on drug charges filed against Nicholas in 2010 (which were later dismissed–billionaires don’t go to the pokey for “minor felonies” like cocaine possession or prostitution):  “Nicholas had his private jet pick up prostitutes in New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles ‘and bring them back to the Pond for his rock star friends,’ the draft complaint said. ‘He provided his guests with transportation and cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamines, marijuana, mushrooms, and nitrous oxide [laughing gas]’ — and even arranged for his private helicopter to land at a nearby hospital helipad, it said.” There are a couple more juicy ones, here and here.

The indictment against Nicholas detailed cocaine binges, and former colleagues claimed that Nicholas had tunnels built under his Southern California mansion to access drugs and prostitutes.

Nicholas was under indictment when girlfriend Melissa met him, and wearing an ankle bracelet, according to the suit. But her lawyer said she did not delve deeply into his legal troubles. “When you fall in love with someone, you don’t really do ‘due diligence’ on them,” Greenberg said. “That makes it seem almost like a merger agreement.”

These days, Nicholas lives at his Newport Beach estate and does philanthropy. He’s been through Betty Ford’s rehab clinics. He gives millions to educational and other charitable causes. And he meddles in politics in places like North Dakota.

And he’s the fellow financing Kathleen Wrigley’s constitutional amendment, which almost any lawyer and some retired judges in the state, including Tom Davies, who served as Fargo’s municipal judge for 40 years, will tell you is a really bad idea. Tom wrote about it in a blog post, and quotes a well-respected attorney, Mark Friese of the Vogel Law Firm:  “This proposal is an initiated measure which claims in this State to advance victims’ rights. Wrong. In our State, it would create irreconcilable conflict with existing laws and procedures and have dire consequences.”

Still, I suppose things could be worse–Nicholas could be running for President of the United States.

UPDATE: The Forum’s Mike Nowatzki reported Wednesday night the backers of Marsy’s Law efforts in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana have already spent $1.6 million of Nicholas’  money.  Read the story here.


5 thoughts on “Sex, Drugs and Marsy’s Law

  1. I won’t ever see why you think it’s appropriate to include commentary like…”My signature gatherer was an obvious meth freak…”

    For you to judge somebody, and through your own personal commentary, link them to drugs based on one personal encounter then include it in this article….is pathetic.

    I’m sorry you felt the need to share this entire thing with the world while littering it with your own judgment of others.


    1. Well, Jim, I’m a pretty old guy, and I’ve seen a lot of meth freaks, and I know one when I see one . . . besides, that’s pretty much what the whole story was about, anyway.


  2. Tom Asbridge May 12

    Marsy’s law is totally unnecessary and beyond that, it is another area of government expansion.

    I am not sure of the need for all of the details here but that is the Editor’s privilege.

    This is an example of what fake conservative’s do. Scream about government overreach and then proceed to do just that.

    To suggest that any here care nothing about victim’s families is a huge untruth—-A LIE.
    Equal justice under the law is supposed to be our standards. The law pretty much spells out the punishment of a guilty party. To have character witnesses regarding a victim falls beyond the pale of justice. Indeed, it further tilts the scales of justice away from and indivual and grants the State more power.

    That is contrary to our basic principles of justice. The State by its very nature has a large edge on the scales of justice. It is not off of this issue to remind your readers that in our present criminal justice system in North Dakota, the accused are not being adequately represented by counsel because of the economics. Defense attorneys do not have the resources available to deliver justice.

    Victims and sometimes their families have recourse through the civil justice system. If a guilty defendant has any assets, they can be taken via the law.

    Of course families have anger and rightly so but those emotions cannot be a part of our justice system.

    I suspect that Kathleen Wrigley has another agenda although a million bucks to spend is not chump change. Her husband proved his character with the Rodriguez prosecution. As U.S. Attorney, he stole the murder/kidnapping case from Minnesota where the crime was most likely committed and moved it into Federal Court here in North Dakota soley for the purpose of obtaining the death penalty. He knew full well that in doing so he would prove to North Dakota voters just how big and tough he was. His concern for the victim’s family and his desire to execute an incredibly sick man speaks for itself.

    Apparently his wife, cut from the same cloth. Pandering to voters in this fashion has a stench to it and it should be remembered.

    Drew has demonstrated his character for all to see. Yes, we can and should hold public officials to a high standard of conduct.

    Time for the Wrigley’s to fade into the sunset.


  3. “I signed it. I’ll sign any petition to put something on the ballot for North Dakotans to vote for or against.”

    Not me. I won’t sign anything handed to me by a paid petitioner.

    To begin with, I think people with money already have plenty of access to the system already. The initiative process ought to be reserved for everyday citizens who are so passionate about a cause that they go out and collect signatures–not just another avenue for rich people to pay for the legislation they want.

    Second, when an initiative gets on the ballot, there may be a whole army of people who have to mobilize it to fight it. A great example: a wealthy group of investors wanted to turn a cute little community in Colorado into a gambling mecca back in the 1990s. Every couple years, they’d get an initiative on the ballot to legalize gambling in Manitou Springs. Every couple of years, every body in town had to stop doing things like volunteering at the library, helping out at the food bank, etc., and fight the gambling law.

    Before I sign a petition, I ask myself, who’s benefiting from this, and who’s going to have to drop everything and mobilize for 6 months to stop it if it’s a bad idea?


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