The former wife of beleaguered Broadcom Corp. co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III has lost an attempt to limit his control of the family's fortune.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Mary Fingal Schulte ruled Thursday that Probate Court was not the proper venue for Stacey Nicholas to seek to have her former husband removed as co-trustee of the family's trust, which she estimated to be worth $600 million.
Attorneys for Henry Nicholas had contended that the action should have been filed in family court, where the couple's divorce is being heard.
In November, Stacey Nicholas filed a petition in probate court accusing Henry Nicholas of squandering $60 million on misguided investments and personal indulgences, including $1 million she said he spent on private detectives who tailed her, once wearing gorilla masks to conceal their identities.
She said his spending had left her so cash poor she couldn't pay a tax bill.
She also accused Henry Nicholas of threatening to physically harm her, once whispering in her ear that he would have her "whacked."
Nicholas, in turn, accused his former wife of filling her petition with "outrageous falsehoods" in an attempt to damage his reputation.
The couple's wealth stems from the success of Broadcom, an Irvine manufacturer of computer chips used in such products as Apple's iPhone.
An attorney for Henry Nicholas said Schulte's decision was welcome news.
"It has always been our view that this petition was filed for improper purposes, as a publicity stunt to smear Dr. Nicholas with false accusations," said Richard Howell, a partner with the Costa Mesa office of Rutan & Tucker.
"The court has rejected her petition across the board," Howell said.
Robert Sacks, an attorney for Stacey Nicholas, could not be reached.
Henry Nicholas is awaiting criminal prosecution under two federal indictments, one that alleges he provided illegal narcotics to friends and business associates and another that alleges he conspired to backdate stock options as secret rewards to employees without disclosing the arrangement to investors.
Nicholas contends he is innocent of any wrongdoing.