Billionaire backer of Marsy’s Law cuts deal on drug trafficking charges

Henry Nicholas, flanked by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former California Gov. Pete Wilson, at a 2004 event opposing to amend the state’s “three strikes” law to require increased sentences only when current conviction is for specified violent or serious felony. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

By Dana Gentry

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A week shy of the anniversary of their arrest in Las Vegas on drug trafficking charges, billionaire Henry Nicholas and his companion, Ashley Fargo, have reached an agreement with prosecutors that allow the two to avoid prison.

Nicholas and Fargo were arrested last August in a Las Vegas hotel room where police found nearly 96 grams of methamphetamine, 4.24 grams of heroin, 15.13 grams of cocaine, and 17.1 grams of psilocin, a psychedelic, according to the complaint.

The agreement calls for Nicholas and Fargo to enter an Alford plea, which means they will make no admission of guilt.  The court will withhold adjudication.

The two are required under the agreement to perform 250 hours of community service, and two sessions of drug counseling a month for the next year.  They are also each required to contribute $500,000 to a drug counseling program in Clark County.

“By no stretch of the imagination would anyone consider Dr. Nicholas or Ms. Fargo to be traffickers distributing drugs into the community,” their attorneys David Chesnoff and David Brown said in a statement. “This positive agreement allows them to help people grappling with addiction by providing substantial financial support to programs in Clark County for treatment and rehabilitation, which have been shown to be an effective tool for combating addiction.”

“Dr. Nicholas and Ms. Fargo are committed to fulfilling their obligations under the agreement and moving forward. Dr. Nicholas will continue to focus on his work championing victims’ rights,” their attorneys said in a statement.

Nicholas is the backer of the nationwide push for the victims’ rights measure Marsy’s Law, which seeks to change state laws to enshrine rights for crime victims. In June, the Pennsylvania Senate gave final approval to a Marsy’s Law proposal that would amend the Pennsylvania constitution. It will appear on the statewide ballot in November.

Crime victims proposal Marsy’s Law now on its way to Pennsylvania voters

Last week, attorneys for the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on evidence that other parties had access to the bags containing the prohibited substances.  A source close to the case says the motion may have influenced the negotiations.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson did not respond to requests for comment.

Failure to complete the terms of the agreement will result in a conviction of guilty of possession, an offense requiring mandatory probation.

The two are scheduled for an Aug. 9 court appearance, where the plea agreement must be confirmed.

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