Last month, Utah billionaire Trevor Milton was convicted in New York on three counts of fraud for lying to investors about his electric truck company Nikola Motors. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Long before he was indicted on suspicion of fraud, three women and two of Milton’s former friends accused him of sexual misconduct.
The allegations began with a man named Jonny Robb from Cottonwood Heights.
Robb and Milton considered themselves friends for years. The two took trips together as part of the same social circle. Other members of the group said, even though Robb did not come from money, he had a rich social life – easily making friends due to his fun-loving personality.
According to Robb, as the two spent more time together, he started to learn how Milton treated women. As Milton’s company became more successful, the two spent less time together.
Milton, who is originally from Layton, set a real-estate record in 2019 by purchasing the most expensive home in Utah.
As their friendship became more distant, Robb said the things he knew about Milton’s behavior ate at him.
“(Jonny) was in a mental health crisis, so we were trying to help him to accept help,” said his mother, Julie Robb. “He had his challenges, but friendships were important to him... He at one point had entertained working for Trevor and selling aspects of his company, and then I never heard anything more about it. That’s about as much as I knew about Trevor.”
In 2020, Robb threatened to publish screenshots of inappropriate messages Milton sent to women. He accused Milton of sexual assault and trying to pay women to have sex while Milton watched.
The two confronted each other through messages on Instagram. Eventually, Milton reported Robb to police – accusing his former friend of blackmail.
FOX 13 News obtained a series of audio recordings from the Utah Attorney General’s Office showing how special agents interviewed both Robb and Milton.
“He was asking for half a million dollars,” Milton said. “I never offered these girls to hook up with me. Not once. I never offered them money to hook up with me... I have no other option other than just to go along with what he’s demanding… In this world, you’re guilty no matter what when it comes to women.”
“Just so we’re on the same page, for this to work, you’ve got to be totally upfront,” a special agent said. “About your relationships, about anything he might have on you. We do need to know that, okay?”
“I definitely opened up to him about a lot of things. Nothing that I’ve ever worried would come back and be anything criminal,” Milton said. “The worst thing I ever did in my life was tell these girls to go hook up with other guys.”
Milton originally reported Robb to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The Utah Attorney General’s Office took over the case. Neither agency explained why.
The Utah Attorney General's Office arrested Robb at a hotel in Murray.
Robb told investigators Milton’s behavior was worse than described. He argued the money was Milton’s idea, a deal to prevent him from releasing more damaging information about Milton’s conduct with women.
Robb described the 500,000 dollars as a “settlement,” not blackmail.
“Dude, I’ve hung onto every single dirty criminal secret with women that (he’s) ever ****ing done, dude,” Robb said. “(He’s) got like thousands of skeletons in (his) closet, and these skeletons want justice... I’m bringing it all out dude. The truth. All of it. Every little bit of it.”
“How are we supposed to believe that that’s true?” the special agent asked.
“You got my phone? Go grab my phone. We’ll pull it all up,” Robb said. “I have a bank full of this stuff, and he knows it... wait until you read what he’s done to women, bro. It’s justice.”
Special agents declined Robb’s invitation to look through the evidence on his phone.
“Just hang onto it. Just hang onto it. Let this all blow over,” they said. “Once this is all blown over, do whatever the hell you want with it.”
Robb spent the next 20 days in jail.
The day after his release, Robb died by suicide. He was 30 years old.
Jonny Robb— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) November 22, 2022
July 22, 1989 - May 7, 2020
"He was our little Peter Pan." pic.twitter.com/fEOvWkbUOn
Julie Robb, his mother, visits his gravesite regularly.
“It came so fast like a storm,” she said. “He would say his biggest idol was his dad... He just did everything big, but he loved big.”
Two months later, public records from the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office show Milton made a $15,000 donation to the reelection campaign of Attorney General Sean Reyes.
It was the first time Milton had ever donated to Reyes. The contribution left Robb’s friends and family asking why the Utah Attorney General’s office took over the case.
When FOX 13 News asked about the sexual assault allegations, the Utah Attorney General’s Office declined an on-camera interview but responded in writing.
“No one in the AG’s office, including Sean, knew about any sexual assault allegations against Trevor Milton prior to investigating this case,” emailed Richard Piatt, a spokesperson for the agency. “Our interest was the extortion case, period.”
“It makes us want to know, was there more to this story than what we were provided?” asked Jay Robb.
FOX 13 News first informed the Utah Attorney General’s office we had questions about the case on September 24, 2020.
The next day, on September 25, 2020, Reyes’ campaign refunded the $15,000 donation.
“Given the current allegations, and although at this point they are only allegations, we felt it best to return the recent donations,” wrote Alan Crooks, a general consultant for the Reyes campaign.
Since Robb’s death, three women have accused Milton of sexual assault.
“It feels really vulnerable talking about it,” said Aubrey Smith, Milton’s cousin. “He goes, ‘Well, yeah, I’m in a class. It’s a massage class, and everybody takes off their shirt during massages. It’s what masseuses have clients do.’ I was super, super naïve.”
Smith said she was 15 years old.
Milton was 17.
“And then he goes, ‘Yeah, in my class, the girls always take their bras off because the straps get in the way,’ and I froze,” Smith recalled. “As he said it, he undid my bra and took it off... and he groped me, and somebody eventually knocked on the door.”
The statute of limitations in Smith’s case has run out, but investigators with the Unified Police Department still documented their findings in a police report.
Another woman – Allison – was also 15 years old when she worked for Milton in St. George.
She asked FOX 13 News to not publish her face or full name.
Allison said she was “fingered” by Milton in the theatre room after work.
“I never worked for him another day, and I went home ashamed,” Allison said, crying. “He was my boss. He was my ride home. I was much smaller than him. I just wanted to go home."
Allison told police she never spoke about the incident to anyone until a journalist called her seeking comment for a potential story about Milton.
“(Milton) knew he had done it,” she said. “He had bragged to other people, and that’s how my story came out.”
Tyler Winona, another former friend of Milton, said he and Milton discussed the incident involving Allison on a road trip together.
“He was trying to glamorize the situation, make it sound like it was hot,” Winona said.
Winona now says he views his experience as very similar to Robb. He was interviewed by St. George PD, but Milton has never been charged.
“I wish prosecutors and police would take these things a little more serious,” Winona said.
Another woman from St. George said she was sexually assaulted by Milton on a modeling trip.
Although the statute of limitations in her case had also run out, she also documented her case with St. George PD and provided them copies of messages she exchanged with Milton.
As allegations came in, Milton stepped down as chairman of Nikola Motors. It was unclear whether he resigned because of the fraud case or the sexual assault allegations.
“More needs to be done to hold Trevor accountable,” Smith said.
Smith said she never heard of Robb until after publicly sharing her story. She still wants to know why the Utah Attorney General’s Office treated Milton as a victim rather than a suspect.
“They have a responsibility to look into it deeply and give weight to what Jonny was saying,” Smith said. “I deeply respect him, and I don’t know him, but... it’s heartbreaking for me, because I think he was really brave.”
Before his arrest, FOX 13 News spent several months in contact with Milton’s public relations team.
At the time, Milton simply said: “I intend to defend myself against false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.”
He has not yet responded to a follow-up request for comment at the time of this story’s publication.