Nikola founder’s trial ready for jury after final arguments

Oct 13, 2022, 3:11 AM | Updated: 3:18 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The fate of Nikola Corp ‘s founder will be in the hands of a jury after he was portrayed Thursday in closing arguments by a prosecutor as a habitual liar, and by his lawyer as an inspiring visionary being unjustly prosecuted.

Trevor Milton, 40, has pleaded not guilty to securities and wire fraud. In 2020, he resigned from the company he founded in a Utah basement six years ago.

Deliberations will begin Friday in the Manhattan federal criminal trial, after it was delayed for over a week after Milton’s lawyer tested positive for the coronavirus.

In closings Thursday, defense attorney Marc Mukasey urged acquittal, saying there was “a stunning lack of evidence” that his client ever intended to cheat investors.

“The government never proved fraud,” Mukasey said. “There were no crimes here and Trevor Milton is not guilty.”

In 2020, Nikola’s stock price plunged and investors suffered heavy losses as reports questioned Milton’s claims that the company had already produced zero-emission 18-wheel trucks.

The company paid $125 million last year to settle a civil case against it by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nikola, which continues to operate from an Arizona headquarters, didn’t admit any wrongdoing.

In his closing rebuttal argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Podolsky insisted the evidence was overwhelming that Milton lied repeatedly to make it seem Nikola had produced operable trucks fueled by hydrogen gas and that the company had billions of dollars in contracts when they didn’t exist.

Podolsky said Milton wanted to get rich and learned that he could dupe investors into supporting Nikola through lies, like when he claimed Nikola had built its own revolutionary truck that was actually a General Motors Corp. product with Nikola’s logo stamped onto it.

Another example was when he sped up the video of a truck rolling down a hill to make it seem like the company had developed a fully functioning truck when it had not, the prosecutor said.

“The lies. That is what this case is about,” Podolsky said.

He said Milton went on television news programs to tell his lies and tweeted them as well.

Podolsky told jurors not to accept Mukasey’s explanations for his client’s behavior, including arguments that Milton had the support of the company’s board of directors and was not warned by anyone to stop conveying his enthusiasm for Nikola publicly.

“This is the robber blaming the guard for not stopping him,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A woman shouts during a protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Protesters angered by strict ant...
Associated Press

China affirms zero-COVID stance, eases rules after protests

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities eased anti-virus rules in scattered areas but affirmed China’s severe “zero- COVID” strategy Monday after crowds demanded President Xi Jinping resign during protests against controls that confine millions of people to their homes. The government made no comment on the protests or criticism of Xi, the most widespread display of opposition […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko talks with US President George W.Bush, at the NATO Sum...
Associated Press

14 years on, NATO to renew a vow to Ukraine

BUCHAREST (AP) — NATO returns on Tuesday to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions, intent on repeating its vow that Ukraine — now suffering through the 10th month of a war against Russia — will join the world’s biggest military alliance one day. NATO foreign ministers will gather for two days at […]
24 hours ago
This photo mad available by Ukrainian doctor Oleh Duda shows the moment when lights at a hospital w...
Associated Press

Surgeons work by flashlight as Ukraine power grid battered

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Dr. Oleh Duda, a cancer surgeon at a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, was in the middle of a complicated, dangerous surgery when he heard explosions nearby. Moments later, the lights went out. Duda had no choice but to keep working with only a headlamp for light. The lights came back when […]
24 hours ago
Sheree Perry of Virginia Beach, center, prays with chaplains at a memorial on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022...
Associated Press

City to hold vigil honoring those killed in Walmart shooting

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, has scheduled a candlelight vigil for Monday evening that will honor and remember the victims of last week’s mass shooting at a Walmart store. Six employees were killed and six people were wounded by a store supervisor late Tuesday night in the city of about 250,000 […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Pakistan launches new anti-polio drive amid spike in cases

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities launched a new nationwide anti-polio drive on Monday amid a spike in new cases among children, health officials said. It is the sixth such campaign this year and will last for five days, aiming to inoculate children under the age of 5 in high-risk areas. The newest drive was aimed […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court in Buffalo, N.Y....
Associated Press

Lawyers: Buffalo supermarket gunman plans to plead guilty

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A white gunman who targeted a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood plans to plead guilty on Monday to killing 10 people and wounding three others, according to lawyers representing victims’ relatives. Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to appear in Erie County Court for a hearing that was postponed for […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Nikola founder’s trial ready for jury after final arguments