Trevor Milton, once the high-flying leader of Phoenix truck maker Nikola, is charged with fraud

By Russ Wiles | Arizona Republic (Photo courtesy of Nikola Corp.)

Phoenix-based Nikola Corp. is trying to put some distance between the company and its founder and former Executive Chairman Trevor Milton after federal prosecutors on Thursday charged him with lying to investorsin a bid to drive up the price of Nikola shares.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York charged Milton with three fraud counts for allegedly misrepresenting various business operations. The grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday morning.

Milton’s legal team responded with a statement declaring his innocence and calling the indictment “a new low in the government’s efforts to criminalize lawful business conduct.”

Nikola officials also issued a statement underscoring that Milton resigned last Sept. 20 and “has not been involved in the company’s operations or communications since that time,” according to a prepared statement. “Today’s government actions are against Mr. Milton individually and not against the company.”

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