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Judge finds Nikola founder guilty of defrauding investors, remains free on bail

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos emphasized that good intentions do not excuse unlawful actions.

On December 18, Trevor Milton, the founder of Nikola, an electric and hydrogen-powered truck manufacturer, was given a four-year prison sentence. Earlier this year, a jury found him guilty of deceiving investors about the company’s technology.

As per federal authorities in Manhattan, Milton misled investors by falsely claiming that Nikola had built a pickup from the “ground up,” that the company had created its own batteries while knowing it was purchasing them, and that it had achieved early success building a semi-truck known as the “Nikola One,” which he knew was defective.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos informed Milton he shared the jury’s opinion that the ex-CEO’s assertions about the corporation were fraudulent after imposing the punishment during a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

“As difficult as it may be for you or your family to hear, I believe the jury got it right,” Ramos stated. Despite being sentenced, Milton was allowed to remain free on bond while he appealed his conviction. 

Recently, the prosecution requested that Ramos sentence Milton to nearly 11 years in prison, the same amount Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, was given last year after being found guilty of deceiving investors in her blood test firm.

In the case of Elizabeth Holmes, the judge disagreed with prosecutors, noting that her situation differed from that of Trevor Milton. This was because Theranos, the company that Holmes founded, promoted faulty technology that adversely affected people’s health.

However, the judge also rejected Milton’s defense that he spoke enthusiastically and lacked malicious intent when addressing investors. He emphasized that good intentions do not excuse unlawful actions.

In October 2022, the court convicted Trevor Milton of one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud but acquitted him of one charge of securities fraud.

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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