Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Seeks Probation in Fraud Case

Trevor Milton, founder and former-CEO of Nikola Corp

Trevor Milton, the founder of electric truck company Nikola, is pushing for probation in his upcoming sentencing, following his October 2022 conviction on fraud charges. Milton, 41, was found guilty in a Manhattan federal court on two counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud.

Prosecutors accused Milton of making false statements about Nikola’s technology and progress, including claims about building a pickup truck from scratch, developing its own batteries, and the functionality of the “Nikola One” semi-truck.

Milton’s legal team, in a recent court filing, argued for probation at his November 28 sentencing, citing his need to care for his sick wife. They contended that Milton’s misstatements stemmed from optimism about his Phoenix-based company rather than ill intent. Milton, known for his active presence on Twitter and various media platforms, has been described by his lawyers as willing to correct his faults if made aware of them.

The defense drew a distinction between Milton’s case and that of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, arguing that unlike Theranos, Nikola was a real company with tangible products. Holmes, serving an 11-1/4-year prison term for fraud, was accused of endangering people’s health with her company’s unreliable medical technology.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams’s office is expected to present its sentencing recommendation, while probation officers have suggested a prison term of 17-1/2 to nearly 22 years, based on federal guidelines. Milton’s lawyers, however, believe the range should be 12 to 18 months.

Nikola’s market value has significantly declined from its peak above $30 billion in June 2020, currently trading near $1 per share with a market value of approximately $1.1 billion. The case, U.S. v. Milton, is being heard in the Southern District of New York.

Lou Nightingale
Author: Lou Nightingale

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