January 22: Preston Tucker acquitted of fraud on this date in 1950


By the time the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had successfully brought Preston Tucker to trial in October of 1949, his start-up automaker was all but defunct. Tucker had felt besieged by entrenched powers favoring Detroit's Big Three, and not without cause; deals for supply plants would go bust without warning, and a powerful Michigan senator would pressure him and his dealers over their finances. The federal trial accused Tucker and his associates of 31 counts of fraud and conspiracy. And yet, when the government's star witness finally took the stand in January of 1950, he could produce no evidence of mismanagement. On this date in 1950, Tucker and crew were found not guilty of all charges — but his dream of a new American automaker was dead. And what a dream it was: