Broadcom Ex-Exec Pleads Guilty in Options Probe

December 3, 2007 ( - The former vice president of human resources at Broadcom Corp. has agreed to plead guilty to charges in connection with an options backdating scheme at the California semiconductor maker.

news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said Nancy Tullos, 56, agreed to enter the plea to obstruction of justice charges.The announcement said Tullos was accused of instructing a subordinate to delete an electronic mail that was evidence of option backdating by Broadcom senior executives and board members.

According to the charges, Tullos helped other Broadcom executives recruit an engineer to work for Broadcom in 1999. The information alleges that on May 25, 1999, Tullos wrote an electronic mail to a Broadcom senior executive – “Executive B,” who was also a board member and a member of the company’s two-man option-granting committee – asking whether Broadcom was going to make a job offer to the engineer. Executive B responded the next day that Broadcom “should make an offer.”

One day later, Tullos responded to Executive B, that she was going to set up a job interview between the candidate and “Executive A” – the second member of Broadcom’s two-man option-granting committee and a board member.

Tullos stated in her plea agreement that when she returned from a vacation in June 1999, Executive A told her that the engineer had been hired on May 25, 1999.

Several weeks later, Tullos received an electronic mail from a subordinate asking if the engineer’s true hire date was May 25, 1999, noting that this date was used “most likely to lock in a particular price” for the engineer’s stock options. Tullos responded in a one line electronic mail: “pls. delete this message,” according to federal authorities.

Tullos admitted in her plea agreement that she took the step to have the e-mail deleted “because she was concerned that the hire date was after May 25, 1999, and did not want the electronic mail to be turned over to the authorities.”

According to the allegations, Tullos later learned that Broadcom’s option committee had granted the engineer 120,000 employee options on May 25, 1999.

In her plea agreement, Tullos agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in an ongoing investigation.