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Inmate alleges drug use by Broadcom duo

October 10, 2008|E. Scott Reckard and Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writers

A Folsom Prison inmate who claims to have supplied drugs to Broadcom Corp. billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III maintains in a federal racketeering lawsuit that he also delivered cocaine to Henry Samueli, the Anaheim Ducks owner and Nicholas' Broadcom co-founder, and former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona.

Brian Sun, Carona's attorney, said the allegation was "absolutely preposterous and a complete fabrication."

Samueli attorney Gordon Greenberg didn't respond to phone calls and an e-mail. Nicholas attorneys James Riddet and Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. also did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

The inmate, Randy Lee Soderstrom, alleges that he began supplying cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs to Nicholas after his employer, a travel company, assigned him in 2000 to work full time at Broadcom. Nicholas was chief executive and Samueli was chairman and chief technology officer of the Irvine computer chip firm.

Soderstrom was convicted in Orange County in 2004 of attempted robbery, attempted voluntary manslaughter and other crimes and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He maintains that the prosecution was a setup, with lying witnesses linked to Nicholas. He has filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court asking that his conviction be overturned.

Soderstrom filed his racketeering lawsuit without an attorney in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana last week, seeking unspecified damages from Nicholas, Samueli and other former Broadcom officers. Because Soderstrom alleges that his "false arrest and illegal conviction" caused damage to his property and business, U.S. District Judge Alicemarie Stotler ruled this week that he must first get his criminal conviction overturned before the racketeering civil suit can proceed.

In a section of the suit describing Nicholas' alleged involvement with drugs and prostitutes in 2000, Soderstrom said, "On at least three occasions, Henry Samueli requested cocaine and ecstasy for him and his wife because they wanted to 'party.' "

Soderstrom said he "personally obtained the drugs and gave them to Samueli."

The 68-page suit levels numerous charges against Nicholas, including that he abused teenage prostitutes and threatened to have enemies -- and Soderstrom -- "whacked." It contends that Nicholas bribed employees and public officials to conceal his schemes to distribute drugs and manipulate Broadcom's stock.

Samueli and other Broadcom executives acquiesced to the wrongdoing, the suit contends.

According to the lawsuit, Soderstrom also twice delivered cocaine and cash to Carona, who resigned in January to face federal corruption charges. The suit said that on one occasion Carona tested the cocaine by taking a pinch with his fingers and inhaling it.

The suit alleges that in mid-2001 Soderstrom delivered cocaine to an unidentified Laguna Beach location where Samueli, Corona and others were present. "Nicholas and Carona snorted cocaine together and Nicholas provided Carona with a large manila envelope that contained cash," the suit contends.

Soderstrom, who has testified to having developed a drug problem in the 1990s, described himself as an intermediary between major drug suppliers and Nicholas' circle of associates. He alleged that Nicholas forced him to quit his travel company job and join a drug-trafficking operation that escalated to purchases of cocaine by the kilogram.

Soderstrom said he told Nicholas in September 2001 that he wanted out because he was afraid he would be arrested. Nicholas told him there was no way out "except in a body bag," the suit maintains.

Nicholas is awaiting trial on federal drug and stock-manipulation charges. Samueli pleaded guilty to lying to regulators about his role in the stock case, but a judge has rejected the plea bargain he struck with federal prosecutors, saying the mandatory sentence of probation and a $12-million fine appears to be too lenient.

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scott.reckard@latimes.com

christine.hanley@latimes.com

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