Nikola founder Trevor Milton sentenced to 4 years in jail for fraudulent claims about electric vehicles


(NEW YORK) — Nikola founder Trevor Milton was sentenced to four years in prison Monday due to fraudulent claims about his electric vehicle company.

In court Monday, Milton portrayed himself as a generous and honest yet unsophisticated businessman who grew up milking cows, lacked a college degree and did not mean to defraud investors in his electric truck company.

“My intent was not to harm others,” Milton told Judge Edgardo Ramos. “Let me have probation.”

Ramos did not comply with Milton’s request, sentencing him to four years in prison, a $1 million fine, forfeiture of a ranch Milton purchased with ill-gotten gains and restitution to victims.

Milton was convicted of wire fraud and securities fraud after prosecutors said he embellished the success of his company and deceived retail investors, who they said lost more than $660 million combined.

One model of the Nikola electric pickup truck called the Badger, lacked certain parts, such as airbags and an operable HVAC, and many of the interior lights were not operable and were merely backlit, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors described Milton’s business practices as a “sustained scheme to take advantage of individual, non-professional investors” in order to inflate Nikola’s stock price and enrich himself.

“Milton over and over again exaggerated or outright lied about Nikola’s success in a way that misled investors about the risks and likely returns of their investments,” prosecutors said.

The defense claimed investors lost no money from Nikola and asked for a sentence for Milton that did not include prison time.

In July 2021, Milton was the at the center of a nearly 50-page indictment, in which prosecutors accused Milton of preying on vulnerable retail investors who had turned to trading after losing income due to the pandemic. In some cases, these victims lost their retirement savings, authorities said, as they outlined his web of false promises related to an electric truck that was never operable.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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