NEW YORK — 5WPR founder Ronn Torossian is stepping down as CEO of the firm after admitting last month to owning Everything-PR despite years of denial — which included using the news site to boost his own firm while slamming other agencies.

“This is a very difficult letter for me to write,” Torossian said in a statement to staff Friday. “I have made the decision to step down as CEO of 5WPR. I have become a distraction and the team deserves the freedom to operate in a context free of noise — noise I personally created.

“I started 5WPR at the age of 28 in December 2002. Today, nearly 20 years later, we employ 275 people, and are one of America’s largest and leading PR agencies. We have done many great things together. 

“But I have also made many mistakes,” he wrote.

Torossian will serve as founder and chairman. Dara Busch and Matt Caiola, who have largely led 5WPR as co-presidents in recent years, will run the company as co-CEOs. They will lead employee relations, client management, and day-to-day decisions of the agency.

“Matt and Dara are incredibly bright, dedicated, and hard-working.  They have a combination of a compelling vision and operational expertise — I have every confidence the firm will continue to thrive under their leadership,” Torossian wrote.

“For me? I’m certain I am just getting started. The business I founded will continue to prosper while I take some time to plan what’s next.  I have worked really hard for a really long time. I need some time, but I have no doubt that I will build again,” he said.

"There’s a lot more I could say. And, eventually, maybe I will. But it won't change the facts on the ground today, and those are my responsibility alone. I simply don’t want my mistakes and noise to distract anymore.”

Torossian’s move comes less than a month after a Crain’s New York Business report confirmed Torossian’s ownership of Everything-PR, which featured “glowing reviews” of 5WPR while recommending that readers stay away from others, frequently in articles written under fake bylines.

Torossian apologized for his lack of transparency on the issue, acknowledging making “missteps including ethical lapses and errors in judgment” during the 20-year history of his firm.

“Everything-PR, a PR news website was purchased in 2014.  At that time, I mistakenly and regrettably did not reveal that I operated the site.  I was wrong.  For this lack of transparency, I apologize.  Everything-PR was a personal initiative; I operated the site and published op-eds in my name. Today it is a PR news site with a disclaimer identifying our ownership and operation,” Torossian told PRovoke Media in a statement.

PRSA-NY’s board of directors unanimously voted to condemn Torossian and 5WPR in response to his admission of masked ownership. Torossian is no stranger to controversy, having been criticized over the years for his aggressive PR tactics.