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Did Nikola’s Trevor Milton Lie About His Heritage To Get A Weaker Sentence?

Trevor Milton, the disgraced founder of Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA), has been sentenced to four years in prison for securities fraud. This comes after a jury found him guilty of deceiving investors about the capabilities of the electric and hydrogen-powered truck manufacturer.

Milton’s conviction, handed down in October 2022, centered on false claims regarding Nikola’s independent development of a pickup truck and batteries, coupled with misleading statements about the functionality of their flagship “Nikola One” semi-truck.

READ: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Gets 4 Years for Deceiving Investors

However, the controversy surrounding Milton did not end with his sentencing. Recently, a thread exposed by short seller Hindenburg Research questions the authenticity of Milton’s claims about his heritage, specifically his alleged Cherokee roots.

During his plea for leniency before sentencing, Milton recounted his family’s history of oppression, claiming to be “one-quarter Cherokee” with a maternal grandmother who faced atrocities as a “100% pure Cherokee” Native American. This emotional appeal seemed to have swayed the judge, who ultimately sentenced Milton to four years in prison, a sentence notably shorter than the maximum 60 years he faced.

Yet, further investigation by Hindenburg Research reveals potential inconsistencies in Milton’s narrative. Census records dating back to the 1850s were consulted to create Milton’s family tree using Ancestry.com. Astonishingly, every single Milton relative self-identified as “white” in these records, despite the availability of options for “Indian/American Indian.”

Milton’s maternal grandmother, whom he claimed was “100% pure Cherokee,” was identified as “Cenia B. Sweet” in the records. Notably, Sweet’s obituary indicated she had used the surnames “Hunt” and “Barnett,” and in 1950 census records, she was listed as “W” for “white” instead of the option “Ind.” for “American Indian.”

Contrary to Milton’s assertions of Cherokee oppression, historical records from the 1860s reveal that Cenia’s great grandfather, Isaac Newton Jackson, owned 24 slaves, an increase from the 14 he declared in the 1850 census.

Milton’s questionable claims did not end with his heritage. He resigned from Nikola just 10 days after the Hindenburg Research report and one day after sexual assault allegations surfaced on social media. During his sentencing, Milton claimed to have resigned due to his wife’s health, a statement not supported by his resignation statement at the time, which made no mention of his wife’s health.

Hindenburg Research, which previously exposed Milton’s pattern of deception in its Nikola report, asserts that Milton “lies like most people breathe.” The organization anticipates that Milton may continue his pattern of dishonesty upon his release from prison.

Despite the controversy surrounding his heritage and the ongoing legal battles, Milton’s sentencing marks a significant chapter in the Nikola saga, with observers watching closely to see how the company navigates in the absence of its founder.

Nikola Corp last traded at $0.83 on the NASDAQ.


Information for this briefing was found via the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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