One of the men photographed smoking cigars around Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in New York last week was once accused of racially abusing and threatening to run over a black parking attendant.
Jerry Rotonda, a Deutsche Bank executive, was charged with violating the civil rights of Shirlene Pierce after she placed a $20 ticket on his Audi for an expired meter in Boston in December 1998.
Rotonda, 50, was pictured on the outskirts of a gathering Cohen held outside the Loews Regency hotel on Manhattan’s upper East side on Friday, while Cohen’s attorneys were in court trying to seal documents seized from him by the FBI.
Pierce alleged to police that Rotonda, then 31, used racial slurs, threatened to hit her, and concluded his rant by saying: “I hope I see you crossing the street so I can run your n—– ass over,” according to press reports from the court case.
Rotonda was accused by Pierce of calling her “a stupid n—–,” saying “I’ll slap that stupid n—– grin off your face,” and telling her: “Don’t come to Kenmore Square where decent people live, city n—– scum. Go back to Dorchester where monkey n—— live.”
Pierce was reported to have said later in a victim impact statement: “What was even more frightening was that through his words, I could sense he was ready to harm me and that there would be no remorse on his part for doing so.”
Photographs and video clips of Cohen and a group of other men laughing and smoking cigars spread quickly through the media on Friday. About six miles to the south, Cohen’s lawyers argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to view records relating to his representation of clients such as Donald Trump.
Rotonda’s LinkedIn page states that he is the chief financial officer of Deutsche Bank’s American wealth management division. Kerrie McHugh, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank, said in an email: “We will decline comment.”
A call on Sunday to a cellphone registered to Rotonda was not answered and the voicemail box was full. A text message seeking comment sent to that number was not returned. A woman who answered a cellphone registered to Rotonda’s partner said she was not available. An email to Rotonda’s Deutsche Bank address was opened but not returned.
In 1999, Judge Edward Redd of Roxbury District Court found there “was a sufficient basis to find [Rotonda] guilty” in the civil rights case, according to court records, but accepted a request from Rotonda “to continue the case for one year without a finding” of guilt officially.
The judge said that Rotonda should receive “unsupervised probation” for one year, must have no contact with Pierce, must publicly apologise to her in front of her colleagues, and must make a payment of $5,000 to her.
Prosecutors in Boston were angry at the judge’s decision and appealed to the state’s supreme judicial court, which found that the order to make Rotonda pay Pierce money was not lawful. But when it sent the case back to the lower court, Redd closed the case, issued no punishment against Rotonda, and even ordered Pierce to return his $5,000.
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office later obtained a civil injunction against Rotonda, after filing a civil rights lawsuit against him over the Pierce incident. The injunction prohibited him from threatening, intimidating, harassing or assaulting anyone based on their race.
According to public records, Rotonda owns an apartment in the Trump World Tower in midtown Manhattan. Cohen and his wife, Laura, owned an apartment in the same building until October last year, when they sold it for $3.3m. Cohen’s in-laws own four apartments in the building.
He recently started a new Manhattan real estate company with Rotem Rosen, an Israeli-American developer whose late father-in-law Tamir Sapir was involved in the development of the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan.
Rosen appeared to be one of the other men present outside the Loews Regency on Friday. He could not be reached for comment.