Henry Samueli, Owner of the Anaheim Ducks, Treading in Deep Water

MCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2008

Henry Samueli.

This name may not be well-known in the realm of sports, but he is a juggernaut in Southern California.

Between 1975 and 1980, he received a bachelor's degree, a master's and a doctorate from UCLA—all in electrical engineering.  He eventually went on to become a professor in the same field at UCLA.

In 1991, he and Henry Nicholas, a former student of Samueli, founded Broadcom.  Broadcom is a global leader in communications technology, particularly known for its contributions in broadband internet equipment.  We might all be using dial-up had they never formed.

The company became public in 1998, allowing Samueli to obtain his current net worth of over $2 billion.  He forfeited his tenure at UCLA at the same time in order to pursue the interests of his company.

In 1999, Samueli donated $30 million and $20 million to the engineering schools at UCLA and UC Irvine, respectively.  Both institutions were renamed The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to honor his contributions.  To this day, his name remains on the list of faculty at UCLA's engineering school, where I was fortunate enough to attend.

In 2005, the Walt Disney Corporation sold the Anaheim Ducks (then called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) to Samueli and his wife for $75 million.  The Samuelis also own the company in charge of operations at the Honda Center (then called the Arrowhead Pond).

In just his second year as owner, Samueli was the proud holder of the Stanley Cup trophy.  This was the Ducks' first championship in franchise history, and it looked as if Henry Samueli was on top of the world.

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But this was not so.  Like Icarus, Samueli flew far too close to the Sun.

Just a year after the impressive championship, the Ducks' owner found himself in a world of trouble.  In May 2008, Samueli resigned as Chairman of the Board of Broadcom, following a lengthy investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A month later, Samueli pled guilty to lying to the SEC about backdating $2.2 billion worth of stock options.  Samueli was penalized a quarter-million dollars in criminal penalties, and  forced to pay $12 million to the US Treasury.  The NHL also suspended him indefinitely.

As if this wasn't bad enough, Nicholas was discovered to be in possession of a ecstasy-distribution warehouse.  Allegations were made that he drugged potential investors and partners at meetings and presentations.

The financial fraud aside, the drug charges continued to circulate around Nicholas, Samueli, and Broadcom.

An inmate at Folsom Prison by the name of Randy Lee Soderstrom filed a racketeering lawsuit against the two in early October, as well as against Michael Carona, a former Sheriff of Orange County.

Soderstrom claims that he supplied a variety of drugs to the three men, including cocaine and ecstasy.  He further claims that his current 12-year sentence was the result of false testimony given by people closely liked to the three.  This may cause Samueli to face charges of perjury and conspiracy.

So what do we make of all this?

As a person who has reveled in Samueli's contributions to society, I don't know what to think.  I am connected to the internet with a modem which likely has a number of Broadcom patents.  I've been a fan of the Ducks since those Disney movies were released during my childhood.  Most of all, I am a graduate of the very school at which Samueli taught and to which he made a very generous donation.

Looking at his pitfalls individually, they are things that are commonplace in the world of business and sports.  But when put together, it is a scandal beyond words.  So scandalous that both UCLA and UC Irvine are considering renaming their engineering schools.  So scandalous that he had to resign from his positions at Broadcom.  So scandalous that he was federally indicted on several occasions.

Samueli has given quite a bit to society, but it doesn't mean he is above the law.  If this man is allowed to roam the streets, I will have lost all faith in society.


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