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Tech billionaire Henry Nicholas is charged with drug trafficking in Las Vegas

Tech billionaire Henry Nicholas is charged with drug trafficking in Las Vegas
Broadcom co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III and Ashley Fargo are each facing five felony counts of drug trafficking and two of possession. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police)

Billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III was charged Wednesday in Las Vegas with multiple charges of narcotics trafficking six months after police discovered heroin and meth in the Broadcom co-founder’s massive suite at the Encore hotel.

Based on the quantities of the narcotics found inside the suite in August, the Clark County district attorney charged Nicholas, 59, and Ashley Fargo, a woman present in the suite with the billionaire, each with five felony counts of trafficking and two of possession.

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Court documents said investigators recovered 82.5 grams of meth and 4.24 grams of heroin.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detained Nicholas and Fargo at about 10:40 p.m. Aug. 7 after hotel security called police to the room, according to Vegas Metro Officer Larry Hadfield, a department spokesman.

Hadfield said security reported finding contraband in the room. Nicholas and Fargo were arrested and booked on suspicion of trafficking heroin, cocaine, psilocin and methamphetamine, Hadfield said.

David Chesnoff, Nicholas’ attorney, said Wednesday “the charges are only allegations and not facts.”

“The actual facts,” he said, “are that Dr. Nicholas is a philanthropist, an advocate for victims’ rights, a scientist and co-founder of a global company. He is not a drug trafficker. Dr. Nicholas and Ms. Fargo deny the charges. We plan to file a motion to dismiss the entire matter on a number of grounds, including lack of evidence.”

Nicholas is expected to make an appearance in a Las Vegas courtroom next month.

The suite where Nicholas was detained by Las Vegas police is among the largest on the Strip; proving possession of the narcotics won’t be as easy as when drugs are found in a car alongside a driver. The charges Nicholas faces are typically used to target drug dealers and are based on quantity of drugs rather than activity.

According to the charges, detectives found meth, cocaine, heroin and psilocin in the suite. A police report says hotel security entered the room after Nicholas was locked out. Inside they found Fargo lying on the bed unresponsive, with a semi-inflated balloon lodged in her mouth, police said, adding that Nicholas told staff it contained nitrous oxide.

The police report says hotel staff then noticed a black Pelican briefcase, and out of concern that it could contain a weapon, opened it and saw what they believed to be marijuana. They then opened a second similar case and found bags of powder and other substances, according to the police report. Neither Nicholas nor Fargo said the cases were their property.

When detectives arrived, police said Nicholas told them the couple had been partying at the Spearmint Rhino strip club beforehand and admitted to bringing the nitrous oxide on his private plane to Las Vegas. According to the police report, video showed Nicholas and Fargo each carrying black Pelican cases like the ones recovered inside the hotel suite.

Chesnoff, who is perhaps Las Vegas’ best-known defense lawyer, has represented celebrities including Paris Hilton, Bruno Mars and Motley Crue singer Vince Neil. In each of those cases, deals were struck after aggressive defenses.

Nicholas stepped down as chief executive of Broadcom in 2003 and, according to Forbes, has a fortune of $3.1 billion.

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