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Milton was sentenced to four years in prison for participating in product and technology development fraud at Nikola Corporation

Former Executive Chairman and CEO of Nikola Corporation, Trevor Milton, has been sentenced to four years in prison by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos for engaging in securities and wire fraud regarding the development of products and technology at Nikola Corporation. Milton had previously been convicted after a one-month trial before Judge Ramos, as reported by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office.

Prosecutor Damian Williams testified that Milton misled investors on multiple occasions, through social media, podcasts, television and print media. Milton’s scheme targeted non-professional individual investors, referred to as retail investors. “Today’s sentencing should be a warning to startup founders and corporate executives everywhere,” Williams mentioned in his statement.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, statements made in public court proceedings and evidence during the trial revealed that from approximately November 2019 to September 2020, Milton engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by inducing them to purchase Nikola Corporation shares through false and misleading statements about the company’s product and technology development.

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Milton made false claims about various aspects of Nikola’s business, including early success in creating a prototype semi-articulated truck called the “Nikola One,” knowing that the vehicle was non-functional. Another false statement was about the creation of an electric and hydrogen-powered pickup truck called “the Badger” and the production of hydrogen at a reduced cost, when, in reality, Nikola did not produce hydrogen at all. Additionally, Milton falsely claimed future deliveries of Nikola’s semi-articulated trucks, representing them as binding orders generating billions in revenue, while the majority of those orders could be canceled at any time.

The sentencing took place on the morning of December 18 before the Honorable Judge Edgardo Ramos, with the proceedings open to the public. Milton faced a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison, but the determined sentence was only four years in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, Milton was ordered to forfeit a property in Utah and pay a fine of one million dollars. It was reported that Judge Ramos will determine restitution in a future proceeding.

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