Trevor Milton wants to avoid going to prison for up to 20 years.
Nikola founder and now-former chairman and CEO Trevor Milton has requested a new trial following his conviction that he misled investors about the electric truck company's status. Those fraud convictions resulted in up to 20 years behind bars. Per Bloomberg, Milton's legal team is now arguing for a retrial because one juror supposedly lied to get on the jury.
Milton's securities and wire fraud conviction happened in October following a trial that lasted a month. It was an extraordinary downfall for Milton who led his company to an IPO in June 2020 with a $26.3 billion evaluation. Just two months later, he was personally accused of fraud by Hindenburg Research, an investment research firm that focuses primarily on short-selling.
Milton stepped down from his role shortly afterward, just as the company killed its proposed EV truck, the Badger. It turns out that truck was built utilizing Ford F-150 Raptor parts.
Now, Milton's lawyers are arguing that the jurors were mistakenly led to believe that in order to convict Milton of three of the four counts against him, they didn't have to find there was intent on his part to deceive investors.
"The extraordinary facts giving rise to this motion establish a disturbing reality: defendant Trevor Milton was found guilty on three counts even though the jury believed Mr. Milton lacked criminal intent and, if properly instructed, would have acquitted him on all counts," his lawyers wrote.
As for the juror who supposedly lied, Milton's team is claiming she already held a negative view of rich corporate executives and that she didn't get her news from social media outlets, only YouTube. The lawyers claim that she was, indeed, a regular Facebook and Twitter user. Her posts are "riddled with attacks on wealthy executives" and "show a close engagement with the news and current events."
Milton and his lawyers further argue that one of his wire fraud convictions ought to be dismissed due to a lack of evidence that "Mr. Milton made any misrepresentation to obtain money from any public shareholder of Nikola stock."
What happens next is up to a judge but convincing them that a juror intentionally lied to get on the jury is a hard argument to make.