For years upon years, we here at Gawker have been bringing you stories of the sheer fuckery of incompetent superflack Ronn [sic] Torossian (pictured), head of 5WPR, the most shameless public relations firm in New York City. Here is a bit of news that we view with exceeding interest: Ronn Torossian is caught up in a federal investigation. A very serious one.
The story hit the New York Times home page this morning, and it's a big one for anyone who's had the misfortune of dealing with Ronn Torossian's rants over the years. Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto is a famous Israeli Orthodox rabbi who has amassed a strong following (including amongst celebrities and politicians) since moving to NYC six years ago. But millions of dollars in donations to the rabbi's congregation have gone missing, and an investigation has been launched. Pinto's former aide, New York porn shop owner Ofer Biton, is one of the men being investigated. Can you guess who the other is?
The rabbi's followers have also charged that Mr. Biton and Ronn Torossian, a public relations agent based in Manhattan, engaged in a scheme in which they leaked purportedly damaging information about the rabbi to reporters. Then, the followers said, Mr. Biton pushed to have Mr. Torossian put on retainer to help put an end to the bad publicity.
Biton himself is being investigated for possibly skimming money off of the rabbi's donation. Ronn Torossian's part in this, to be clear, involves allegations that he tried to extort cash out of the rabbi, with threats of negative publicity. Like this, in 2010:
One night, Mr. Biton and Mr. Torossian confronted the rabbi over [his decision to stop renting an apartment at Essex Houst], according to [lawyer Michal] Cohen, who said she was there at the time.
Ms. Cohen said she heard Mr. Torossian demand $500,000 from the rabbi, as well as five months' rent for the Essex House apartment. Mr. Torossian threatened the rabbi with a spate of negative publicity if he did not agree, she said.
The Times points to this NY Daily News Gatecrasher item as an example of a story which Ronn might have planted. It has all the hallmarks of a Ronn plant: it's petty, it's vindictive, it's one-sided, and it's false (though it alleges a Nightline investigation, Nightline never ran a story about the rabbi). And while we have no inside knowledge of this particular case (yet!), it's worth noting that Ronn Torossian has a long and storied history of suing and/ or threatening to ruin the reputations of anyone who displeases him.
Ronn hasn't responded to our request for comment, but he did tell PRNewser "This so called rabbi is a crook... I have had no contact with this individual in more than a year and will shortly release more information. There is zero truth to these allegations."
Could this, at long last, be the end of Ronn [sic] Torossian? The speculation, I can confirm, is already flying about. I am currently accepting any and all information about this case or 5WPR in general from any current or former employees or insiders. Email me. Anonymity is guaranteed. Going down with the ship is overrated.