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Green Energy Scam: Founder Of Electric Truck Company Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

Trevor Milton, the founder of electric and hydrogen-powered truck maker Nikola, has been sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding investors.

CNBC reports that Trevor Milton, the founder of Nikola, an electric and hydrogen-powered truck manufacturer, was recently sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of defrauding investors. This sentence comes after Milton was convicted in October 2022 on two counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud.

A Nikola Tre battery-electric heavy duty truck

Milton, who enticed auto-industry leaders and investors with his promise for a revolution in electric trucks, faces a securities-fraud trial beginning this week on allegations that he lied about his company’s development of environmentally friendly technology. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

The jury reportedly delivered the verdict after about six hours of deliberation, following four weeks of testimony. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos allowed Milton to remain free on a $100 million bond until sentencing in January.

After hearing the verdict, Milton was seen shaking his head in apparent disbelief while his wife, Chelsey Milton, sobbed with her head leaned up against the back of a courtroom bench.

During the trial, prosecutors described Milton as a “con man,” who lied to investors, claiming Nikola was close to producing long-haul trucks that could run emission-free on cheap hydrogen.

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Milton’s conviction centers around misleading investors about Nikola’s technological capabilities and financial prospects. He became a billionaire almost overnight when Nikola went public in June 2020 through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

However, the company soon faced allegations of fraud, which led to significant losses in its market value. Prosecutors compared Milton’s actions to those of Elizabeth Holmes, the Theranos founder, highlighting a pattern of deception in high-profile startups.

Interestingly, Milton’s sentence is much lower than the 11 years requested by prosecutors, and he was also fined just $1 million. Despite what can be considered as leniency, it’s clear that the government is taking a dim view of the “fake it until you make it” startup culture of Silicon Valley.

Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement: “Trevor Milton lied to investors again and again — on social media, on television, on podcasts, and in print. But today’s sentence should be a warning to start-up founders and corporate executives everywhere — ‘fake it till you make it’ is not an excuse for fraud, and if you mislead your investors, you will pay a stiff price.”

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