In a recent federal court ruling, Trevor Milton, the ex-CEO of Nikola, has been sentenced to four years in prison for charges related to fraud. The verdict includes a $1 million fine, restitution, and additional probation time. Milton, currently on bail, is appealing the conviction.
Milton was at the helm of Nikola in 2018 when the company admitted to fabricating a video of its prototype electric semi-truck in motion. The misleading video, along with other statements by Milton, created a false impression of the company's progress towards full-scale production. In October 2022, he was found guilty of securities fraud and wire fraud by a jury.
The recent court decision imposes a four-year prison term, a $1 million fine, an undetermined amount of restitution, and three years of supervised release after serving the initial sentence. Notably, this penalty is less severe than the prosecution's initial request for an 11-year prison term and a $5 million fine. Milton's defense had sought probation only.
Since Milton's departure from Nikola, the company has faced challenges, including the launch of a hydrogen-electric semi-truck, financial losses, a de-listing notice from NASDAQ, job cuts, and a fire on its premises destroying four trucks.
As of September, Nikola's current CEO, Steve Girsky, drew parallels between the company and Tesla, emphasizing the potential for impact in the automotive industry. Despite the recent setbacks, Nikola's trajectory remains uncertain, with its legacy potentially overshadowed by Milton's actions and the challenges faced under his leadership.