EV Company Founder Sentenced to 4 Years Due to Fraudulent Claims: “My Intent Was Not to Harm Others”
The billionaire founder of the American electric vehicle company, Nikola, has been sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted of several crimes.
Trevor Milton was found guilty of preying on vulnerable retail investors who tried to earn extra money by trading during the height of the pandemic. Some of the unfortunate victims lost all of their retirement savings.
Billionaire Founder of Nikola
Trevor Milton founded Nikola, an electric truck company manufacturer, after several other failed businesses in the industry. From 2016 to 2020, the company produced multiple vehicle concepts and eventually went public.
The company placed a particular focus on natural gas-fueled turbine-electric semi-trucks. By 2022, the company projected deliveries of between 300 and 500 of its semi trucks known as the Nikola Tre. But, during this time, the company was under fire due to various allegations of fraud.
Trevor Milton Taken to Court
Last week, Milton appeared in court after charges were brought against him claiming he preyed on potential investors.
Unfortunately, many of the investors lost their life savings. According to the authorities, this factor outlines his web of false promotes related to the semi trucks that were never operable.
Milton Assures Judge He’s “Honest”
In court last Monday, Trevor tried to portray himself as an honest and generous yet unsophisticated businessman.
He spoke about his humble beginnings in life, milking cows, and how his lack of a college degree may have led to the misunderstanding. Nonetheless, Milton claims he never tried to defraud investors with the electric truck company.
EV Founder Pleads for Mercy
The judge allowed Trevor to speak for several minutes as the accused tried everything he could to plead his innocence.
“My intent was not to harm others,” Milton told Judge Edgardo Ramos. “Let me have probation.”
Nikola Targeted Non-Professional Investors
Neither the judge, nor those who brought forth the indictment, were as convinced of his innocence.
“Milton’s scheme targeted individual, non-professional investors — so-called retail investors — by making false and misleading statements,” the indictment said.
Judge Refuses to Grant Milton Any Favors
Judge Ramos did not comply with Milton’s request, instead issuing the billionaire with a four-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine.
According to reports, Milton was also forced to forfeit a ranch he had purchased with ill-gotten gains and pay restitution to victims.
Convicted of Wire and Securities Fraud
The billionaire was convicted of security and wire fraud after prosecutors claimed he exaggerated the potential success of the company.
Milton used this embellishment of the company’s success to deceive retail investors, who claim to have lost upwards of $660 million combined.
The EVs Didn’t Even Work
Investigations into Nikola’s EVs found that one model, the Badger, lacked certain parts, including airbags and an operable HVAC.
On top of this, said prosecutors, many of the interior lights were not operable and were simply backlit.
Sustained Scheme to Make Money
Prosecutors deemed Milton’s business practices 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.
EV Founder Pleads Not Guilty
Back in 2021, when charges were first brought against him, Milton pleaded not guilty after being taken into custody and released on a $100 million bond.
A spokesperson from his legal team claimed the EV founder was innocent, calling the situation “a new low in the government’s efforts to criminalize lawful business conduct.”
Milton Legal Team Hit Back at Indictment
In a lengthy statement released by Trevor’s legal advisors, they said, Mr. Milton has been wrongfully accused following a faulty and incomplete investigation in which the government ignored critical evidence and failed to interview important witnesses.”
“From the beginning, this has been an investigation in search of a crime. Justice was not served by the government’s action today, but it will be when Mr. Milton is exonerated.”