In the heart of Phoenix, a legal drama is unfolding that has captured the attention of the business world. Trevor Milton, the founder of Nikola, a local electric truck startup, is embroiled in a legal battle over accusations of defrauding investors. Despite the gravity of these charges, Milton’s legal team argues that he should not face prison time, unlike Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, who was convicted on similar charges.
Milton’s conviction in October came after prosecutors argued that he had misled investors about Nikola’s technology since 2019. They claimed that Milton used social media and news-media interviews to make false and misleading claims, including that Nikola had built an electric- and hydrogen-powered “Badger” pickup from the “ground up”.
However, Milton’s legal team has contested the conviction, arguing that one of the jurors was biased against the wealthy. They pointed to the juror’s social media posts, which included statements like “Three words: tax the rich,” and comparisons of Jeff Bezos’ and Mark Zuckerberg’s fortunes with minimum wage rates in the United States.
Despite these arguments, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos rejected Milton’s bid for a new trial. He stated that the juror’s online posts did not show she lied about her views during jury selection. Milton’s sentencing on one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud is scheduled for Nov. 28.
In contrast, Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, was convicted of defrauding investors after a months-long trial in California. Prosecutors argued that Holmes knowingly lied about technology she claimed could detect diseases with a few drops of blood. She was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud against investors and three charges of wire fraud.
The outcomes of these two high-profile cases highlight the ongoing debate about accountability and punishment in cases of corporate fraud. As these legal battles unfold, they continue to spark discussions about wealth, power, and justice in the corporate world. Stay tuned to Arizona New Times for more updates on this developing story.