Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of electric truck company Nikola, was sentenced to four years in prison on December 18, 2023, after being found guilty of misleading investors about the company’s technology. The court also ordered him to pay a $1 million fine. Milton was convicted on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud for misrepresenting key details about the development of Nikola’s products and technology. The allegations included false claims about Nikola’s capabilities, such as building its own electric truck, the Nikola One, from the ground up, and staging a video that purportedly showed the Nikola One semi driving under its own power when it was actually rolling down a hill.
The sentencing followed a multi-year saga that saw Nikola’s stock soar and then crash over accusations of fraud and canceled contracts. The sentence was less than the 11 years prosecutors had requested, but more than the non-jail sentence of probation sought by Milton’s attorneys.
During the sentencing hearing, Milton made several unusual statements, including claiming that his resignation from Nikola was due to his wife’s illness, not the fraud allegations. The sentencing comes at a difficult time for Nikola, which has filed a notice of going concern with the SEC, suggesting it might not be in operation in 12 months.