Thick as Thieves

Proverb: If you want to know someone’s character, look at the friends he keeps.

Tony Ortega surrounds himself with an unsavory lot
Tony Ortega surrounds himself with an unsavory lot

Antireligious bigot Tony Ortega seems most comfortable in the company of a rogues’ gallery of psychos, bigots, malcontents and outright criminals. And he gives some of them a platform on his blog and in his life to spew their vitriol.

Among the nefarious members of the Ortega gang:

Aaron Smith-Levin, who was booted out of Scientology in 2014 because of his bullying and violent behavior. Ever since, he has waged a vendetta against the Church, while engaging in criminal conspiracy, filing false reports to law enforcement, computer hacking, harassment and drunk and disorderly conduct. As frontman for an antireligious hate group, he revels in inciting religious bigotry. And he brags: “I consider Tony Ortega a friend.”

Leah Remini is a close confederate of Ortega’s. Together, they orchestrated Remini’s publicity stunt departure from Scientology in an attempt to resurrect her faded acting career. After a decade of attempts to make a living and a comeback, Remini appears to be fading entirely from the scene and may just take her hangers-on, including Ortega, down with her.

Yashar Ali, disgraced blogger, is a celebrity grifter and hustler sued by a member of the Getty family for more than $230,000 in unpaid loans and interest. A part of the incestuous Ortega hate gang, he reportedly lives on Leah Remini’s couch, from where he spews antireligious vitriol.

Karen de la Carriere, a former prostitute, has “donated” to Ortega to keep the unemployed blogger afloat. “She was boasting and bragging to people that she owned Tony Ortega,” because of the amount of money that she’d invested in him and that she had “kept him going,” former Ortega confidant Mark Rathbun said. “She’s notorious for bragging about that.” Ortega camped out at her house when he was in Los Angeles.

Jeffrey Augustine, de la Carriere’s partner, has appeared numerous times on Ortega’s blog. Augustine is an “occultist” who says he received revelations on the secrets of God and the origin of the universe from a voice inside his head, and a “massive download from infinity.”

Graham Berry, also promoted by Ortega, is a disgraced lawyer formally designated a “vexatious litigant” by the California Judicial Council for filing numerous meritless lawsuits to harass and harm the Church of Scientology, its principals and its members. His sordid history, available in the public record, includes paying witnesses for manufactured evidence, falsifying evidence, using wrongful litigation tactics and defying court orders. Keeping it all in the circle, Berry’s business address is the same as de la Carriere’s.

Rick Ross is credited by Ortega with getting him his first job with New Times after Ortega’s cover story about Ross. Ross has a rap sheet for theft, followed by a judgment of nearly $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for a violent kidnapping and deprogramming. Early on, a psychiatric evaluation found him with a “personality disturbance” and “sociopathic inclinations.”