Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Still not convinced America needs an excess wealth tax on multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires? Check out this hair-curling super-rich dude.

Oh, thank you, thank you, Los Angeles Times, for your report on what’s up with Henry T. Nicholas III, a billionaire computer chip mogul who made his megabucks selling some of his Broadcom stock.

So what did super-rich Hank do with his humongous stash of cash? Well, to be fair, he did give millions to education and to a local performing arts center. But that still left him a staggering bundle of bucks for other kinds of “good” works.

According to papers filed in Orange County Superior Court and reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hot-To-Trot Hank….

• Added hidden doors, secret levers, an underground grotto, strange tunnels (see photograph, above) and planned a “secret and convenient lair” with hidden entries “to help him indulge in a manic obsession with prostitutes” and an “addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy.”

• “Nicholas had his private jet pick up prostitutes in New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles ‘and bring them back...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.”

Okay, so boys will be boys. But wait, there’s more!

•According to a lawsuit, Nicholas stiffed his assistant, Kenji Kato, for $150,000 in back wages.

•Nicholas also tried to stiff the construction team for his secret sex hideaway for “millions of dollars” for work performed between 1998 and 2002, according to a different law suit that was confidentially settled out-of-court.

•“Nicholas was said to have used ‘manipulation, lies, intimidation and even death threats’ to pressure ‘nearly every contractor and vendor’ on the project to perform extra work without pay ‘at warp speed,’’ says the Los Angeles Times.

But wait, there’s even still more!

• Nicholas hired a bunch of armed thugs "to block access to community horse trails near the project [which] prompted neighbors to complain to Laguna Hills authorities, who discovered the work was being performed without a permit and shut it down…”

•“The location, referred to as the Pond or the Ponderosa, ‘was infamous for its excessive extravagance, its sex rooms and its million-dollar sound equipment,’ the [court-filed] document alleged,” says the LA Times.

Oh yes, and one more thing:

• Federal authorities are probing Nicholas' role in the manipulation of stock options at Broadcom,the LA Times said it had learned.

Nicholas has denied all the allegations against him and any wrongdoing. But his wife – who may have gotten wind of hooker hinjinks in the hidden grotto – has left him.

Now I ask you, if Nicholas only had, say, a mere $5,000,000 plus change to his name, would any of this have happened? And would he still be able to live reasonably comfortably? And might the billion or more that got taxed away from him keep a few more endangered schools open, or contibute at least a wee bit to help resolve the Medicare deficit? Or help just a smidge to support universal healthcare in this country?

That’s why America needs an excess wealth tax.

The full story here:,0,7022711.story?coll=la-home-center

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