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Electric Truck Startup Founder Sentenced to Four Years in Securities Fraud Case

Trevor Milton, the once founder and ex-CEO of Nikola, has been handed a four-year prison sentence for securities fraud
By Josefina Dipaolo
December 20, 2023

Embark on the gripping conclusion to a multi-year saga that once had Nikola's stock soaring and subsequently crashing. Trevor Milton, the disgraced founder and former CEO of the electric truck startup Nikola, faced the judgment day on Monday as U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos sentenced him to four years in prison for securities fraud.

The tale unfolds with Milton's meteoric rise, witnessing Nikola's stock surge by 83%, only to plummet later amidst accusations of fraud and canceled contracts. The sentencing, after four delays, leaves Milton with a prison term of 48 months on each count, to be served concurrently, and a hefty $1 million fine. However, this may not be the end, as Milton vows to appeal the sentence.

As the courtroom drama unfolded, Milton tearfully pleaded for leniency, claiming his resignation from Nikola's CEO post was driven by personal reasons, specifically his wife's health crisis. In a statement shared on social media, Milton passionately declared, "I chose my wife over money or power."

The jury's conviction in October 2022, finding Milton guilty of securities and wire fraud, revolved around allegations of deceiving investors about Nikola's electric truck development to artificially boost the company's stock value. Prosecutors sought an 11-year sentence, arguing that Milton lied repeatedly, targeting retail investors.

However, defense attorneys argued that Milton's actions were not malicious, asserting that he merely craved admiration akin to Elon Musk. The case, laden with accusations of improper statements, infamous marketing videos, and a subsequent SEC settlement, paints a vivid picture of corporate turmoil and investor losses.

As the curtain falls on this high-profile case, Trevor Milton's sentencing joins the ranks of notable tech founders facing legal repercussions, including Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos and Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX. The narrative speaks to the accountability demanded in the tech realm, a cautionary tale of ambition gone awry and the consequences faced in the pursuit of corporate success.

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