Nikola founder asks judge to block ‘wealth’ and ‘lifestyle’ evidence in fraud case

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A Monday court filing showed Milton’s attorneys told U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that details of Milton’s wealth were “unfairly prejudicial” and could mislead the jury.

Trevor Milton, the founding billionaire and former chief executive of Nikola Corp, has asked a federal judge to block evidence related to his “wealth, lifestyle or drinking habits” during his fraud trial.

A Monday court filing showed Milton’s attorneys told U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that details of Milton’s wealth were “unfairly prejudicial” and could mislead the jury.

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US prosecutors have accused Milton of defrauding investors by lying to them about Nikola, the Phoenix-based electric truck maker he founded in 2014.

Prosecutors say he falsely claimed that Nikola built an electric and hydrogen-powered pickup truck from scratch, developed batteries he knew the company was buying elsewhere and that the company was making progress on a prototype truck that he knew didn’t work.

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Milton also targeted retail investors with a social media PR blitz as well as television and podcast interviews to boost Nikola’s share price, authorities said.

On Monday, his attorneys also filed a motion to exclude evidence of the circumstances of retail investors during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying those circumstances did not affect whether Milton had committed securities fraud or by wire.

Nikola declined to comment on Milton’s court filing.

Judge Ramos in November last year dismissed Milton’s claim that he should not have been charged -2021-07-29 in New York with securities and wire fraud because his alleged lies are were in Arizona and Utah, where he lives, and the case belonged there if at all.

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The company’s share price has fallen more than 90% from its June 2020 high.

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