Lawyers representing Trevor Milton, the founder of truckmaker Nikola Corp., are arguing that he should receive a different sentence than Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes due to the dissimilar nature of their fraud cases. In a filing submitted to a Manhattan federal court, Milton's legal team emphasized that he never displayed the same level of greed or malicious intent that resulted in Holmes' imprisonment.
Milton's lawyers were keen to highlight that he pioneered the development of battery- and hydrogen-electric trucks with the intention of revolutionizing the industry, rather than engaging in fraudulent activities driven by personal gain. They confidently stated that there exists no evidence, from both the trial and Milton's personal life, to suggest that he was motivated by spite, cruelty, ill will, or nastiness.
The 41-year-old Milton was convicted last year for deceiving investors by embellishing his company's capabilities in producing zero-emission trucks. In contrast, 39-year-old Holmes is currently serving an 11-year sentence for defrauding investors in her blood-testing company, Theranos.
Milton's sentencing is scheduled for November 28th. However, his legal representatives have contested the federal sentencing guidelines, which recommend a prison term ranging from 17 1/2 years to 22 years. They argue that these calculations greatly exaggerate the severity of his crimes.
Crucially, Milton's lawyers stressed that unlike Holmes, their client never compromised the safety of Nikola's customers. They pointed out that Holmes knowingly promoted and utilized unreliable blood-testing technology, placing individuals at considerable medical risk. Furthermore, they highlighted that Holmes deceived her own board of directors alongside the investors.
In contrast, Milton's actions were transparent and conducted with the full knowledge and involvement of Nikola's executives and board members. There were no instances of fabricated documents or financial misconduct, nor were there any threats made to keep anyone silent, as affirmed by his legal team.
Trevor Milton's Defense Argues for Leniency
In recent court filings, Trevor Milton's defense team has appealed to the judge for leniency in light of the impact on his life and reputation. Defending Milton, lawyers pointed out that he has already faced significant consequences, including being featured on CNBC's "American Greed" and being the subject of a podcast titled "The Unraveling of Trevor Milton" by The Wall Street Journal. Numerous news reports, including coverage by The Associated Press, have also added to the negative publicity surrounding Milton.
The defense team highlighted that Milton has endured distressing and intolerable online harassment, resulting in the loss of close relationships with friends and colleagues who once supported him in creating Nikola. They emphasized that Milton's reputation, initially a cornerstone of his success, now lies in ruins, leading to depression and personal loss.
However, the defense team urged the sentencing judge to avoid drawing parallels with the prosecution of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos. They stressed that Nikola remains a genuine company with tangible products based on proven technologies.
It is worth noting that in 2020, Nikola's stock price plummeted, causing significant financial losses for investors due to doubts raised about Milton's claims of developing zero-emission 18-wheel trucks. Prosecutors argued during the trial that Nikola, founded by Milton in a Utah basement six years prior, falsely represented its revolutionary truck as its own creation when it had actually only added Nikola's logo to a General Motors Co. product.
To resolve the civil case filed against Nikola by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company paid $125 million last year. However, Nikola continues its operations from its headquarters in Arizona while not admitting any wrongdoing.
The defense team for Holmes did not provide an immediate response, and prosecutors are expected to present their sentencing arguments in the coming week.
Our Latest News
Shares of Vodafone decline as the telecommunications giant reports a loss in the first half of 2024. Despite growth in Germany, concerns remain about the compan...
French energy company TotalEnergies plans to enhance shareholder distributions, expand oil-and-gas production, and increase low-carbon portfolio to achieve grow...
Oil futures are on track for weekly gains after a slump, while traders remain uncertain about OPEC+ meeting outcomes. The market declined due to lack of clarity...