Nikola founder loses bid for a new trial

Nikola founder Trevor Milton was denied a new trial on his federal fraud convictions. (Photo: Nikola Corp.)

Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton lost his bid for a new trial when the judge in his case rejected a defense claim that a juror hid a bias against rich people.

Milton’s personal fortune approached $10 billion during the high-flying days of the electric truck maker’s stock following its public debut in 2020. He has cashed out hundreds of millions of his holdings. But he still owns more than 5% of the company he founded in 2015.

Milton’s defense team argued in December that the juror’s comments showed bias that entitled him to a new trial.

According to a Reuters report on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said the juror’s online posts did not show she lied about her views during jury selection.

“One can simultaneously lament wealth inequality and believe that corporate executives are not more inclined than others to break the law, are ‘worth’ the amount that they earn, and are otherwise entitled to a fair trial,” the judge said.

Ramos also rejected defense arguments that prosecutors failed to prove their case against Milton.

Prosecutors: Milton sought to enrich himself through rising stock price

Milton was convicted in October 2022 on one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors claimed he sought to enrich himself through a rising stock price by lying about Nikola’s prowess and technology progress in developing hydrogen-powered electric trucks. Milton once owned 26% of Nikola stock.

The company is now building hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks at a plant in Coolidge, Arizona. Deliveries are expected to begin in the fourth quarter.

Milton is now scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 28 in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, New York. His sentencing has been postponed several times. It was most recently scheduled for Sept. 22. Milton remains free on a $100 million bond.

Nikola recently concluded arbitration with Milton in its attempt to get him to reimburse the company for a $125 million Securities and Exchange Commission fine related to Milton’s claims about the company. Nikola also is seeking to recover some of the tens of millions it spent defending him following his departure from the company in September 2020.

There is no indication when the arbitrator will rule.

Separately, Nikola on Thursday said it appointed former Hub Group and Schneider executive  John Vesco to its board. He fills a seat vacated by former CEO Michael Lohscheller who resigned from the company earlier this month because of a family issue.

Related articles:

Convicted Nikola founder Trevor Milton seeks new trial

Nikola founder guilty on 3 fraud counts

Nikola will push indicted founder to reimburse expected $125M SEC fine

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The post Nikola founder loses bid for a new trial appeared first on FreightWaves.

Source link