Taking a page from the playbook of federal prosecutors, convicted Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton is swamping the judge in his case with examples of social media posts in a bid for a new trial.
Prosecutors introduced reams of social media posts and relied on taped podcasts and media interviews to establish a pattern of lying in Milton’s four-week trial. His lawyers received permission to submit a 42-page filing filled with social media posts that Milton claimed showed bias against him.
Milton is trying to show that a juror in his federal fraud trial lied about using social media when she said she had not. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos admonished jurors during his pre-deliberation instructions against posting about the case on social networks.
‘Riddled with attacks’
Twitter and Facebook pages were “riddled with attacks on wealthy executives” by the juror despite insistence during jury selection that she used social media, according to Reuters. Milton was worth billions on paper when Nikola’s stock price reached more than $90 a share in June 2020. Shares closed Friday at $2.42.
The jury found Milton guilty of lying to investors about the electric- and hydrogen-powered truck maker’s technology starting in November 2019. The jury convicted Milton on Oct. 14 of one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. It acquitted him on an additional count of securities fraud.
According to Bloomberg, Milton’s lawyers argued jurors mistakenly believed that to convict Milton of three of the four counts against him, they did not have to find that he intended to deceive investors, when in fact they were.
Milton faces sentencing on Jan. 27. His bid for a retrial and ultimately an appeal of his conviction are routine and rarely successful defense tactics. He is free on $100 million bail secured in part by his 32-acre ranch in Utah.
Milton is also seeking to have the wire fraud conviction related to investors thrown out, claiming the government did not prove its case.