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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge in California on Tuesday dismissed stock options backdating-related charges against Broadcom Corp co-founder Henry Nicholas and former Chief Financial Officer William Ruehle, citing allegations of misconduct by prosecutors. Carney ruled that Ruehle, 67, could not defend himself because prosecutors had "intimidated" witnesses.
District Judge Cormac Carney also ordered prosecutors to explain at a February 2 hearing why they should be allowed to proceed with a separate drug possession trial against Nicholas, set for 2010.
more FILE - In this June 5, 2008 file photo, Broadcom's former chief financial officer, William J.
The judge said Samueli had not intentionally lied to the U. Securities and Exchange Commission during the backdating probe, despite his guilty plea to the charge in 2008.
co-founder Henry Nicholas III and former Chief Financial Officer William Ruehle because of prosecutorial misconduct. The stunning move came after Carney vacated a guilty plea by Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli in the same case after hearing him testify for two days last week as a defense witness for Ruehle under a grant of immunity.
Carney found that prosecutors tried to prevent three key defense witnesses from testifying, improperly contacted attorneys for defense witnesses and leaked information about grand jury proceedings to the media.
The practice isn't illegal if properly disclosed and accounted for.
"If someone had used the word 'illegal' in a discussion with me, I would have remembered that," said Samueli, testifying in the trial after winning limited immunity from a federal judge in return for testifying in Ruehle's case.
Cases of backdating employee stock options have drawn public and media attention.