Nikola Founder Sentenced to 4 Years for Fraud

Trevor Milton stepped down in 2020 amid sexual assault accusations and a report that claims of the company's hydrogen-powered truck's technology were false.

Former Nikola CEO Trevor Milton.

Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of electric truck startup Nikola, was sentenced Dec. 18 to four years in prison, for the three counts of fraud he was convicted of, according to Reuters.

Milton had been charged in 2021 with four counts of fraud---two each of wire and securities fraud. He was found guilty in October 2022 by a jury on both charges of wire fraud and one of securities fraud.

The charges stemmed from claims Milton, who founded the company in 2014, had lied to investors about how technologically advanced the company’s hydrogen-powered Class 8 semi truck, the Nikola One, really was. A Hindenburg Research report in September 2020 said there were no working prototypes of the truck and a video of one “working” was faked by pushing a shell down a hill. The report also said Milton’s claims of groundbreaking battery technology were false.

Nikola threatened to sue Hindenburg over the report, but after the SEC got involved, Nikola was ordered to pay a $125 million fine.

That same month, Milton was accused of sexual assault, and he resigned as CEO on Sept. 20, 2020.

In October 2023, Milton was ordered to pay his former company $165 million to cover costs and damages Nikola incurred due to Milton’s controversial actions, including the $125 million fine from the SEC.

After the sentencing Dec. 18 in a federal court in Manhattan, the judge ruled Milton can remain free on bail as he prepares to appeal his conviction. 

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