Trevor Milton, founder and former CEO of Nikola, an electric and hydrogen truck startup, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud. He was found guilty of three of the four charges against him, including making misleading statements about the state of his company in order to inflate the value of his shares.
Milton was accused of exaggerating Nikola's orders, its hydrogen production capabilities and its technological advancements. He has also been accused of lying on social media, on television, in podcasts and in writing.
The prosecution said Milton took advantage of the fact that Nikola had gone public through a merger with an already publicly traded company (a SPAC), which allowed it to release less stringent information to the public than a traditional IPO process.
Milton's convictions are a blow to Nikola, who has previously faced financial difficulties. The company was forced to lay off employees and revise its production plans.