Officers and Directors
Owner, Ashton Distributors
While he’s best known for creating the Ashton brands, Robert Levin, President of Holt’s Cigar Holdings, is a 50-year veteran of the cigar business with experience in retailing and wholesaling. After a humble start, sweeping the floor of his father’s Philadelphia cigar store, he took over the family business in the 1970s, then created the original Ashton in the 1980s. His cigar grew up to be an industry giant, and in 1999 he trumped his earlier success with the addition of the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown line.
CEO, Oliva Cigar Company
With over 16 years in the cigar industry, Cory Bappert is CEO of Oliva Cigars. He joined Oliva Cigars in 2006 as Vice President of Sales. He is proud to be serving as Vice President of Cigar Rights of America.
Owner, J.C. Newman Cigar Company
J.C. Newman Cigar Company is the oldest family-owned premium cigar manufacturer in America. A fourth-generation cigar maker, Drew continues a 126-year-old tradition that his great-grandfather started in 1895. Before joining the family business full time, Drew served as the Chief of Staff of a national nonprofit based in New York City and as a Legislative Director at the Council of the District of Columbia. After law school, Drew was a judicial law clerk at the D.C. Court of Appeals. Drew holds a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College, a Juris Doctor from American University, and a Master of Public Policy from Princeton University.
Owner, Old Virginia Tobacco Company
Gary Pesh has been involved in the tobacco business for over 40 years. He began working alongside his father at the family business, Tobacco Barns, in 1980. Gary grew the business from three stores to seven and oversaw the name change to Old Virginia Tobacco Co. He currently serves as president of the multi store retail chain.
In addition to being a former city councilman in Roundhill, VA, Gary has served on multiple boards for over 15 years, including IPCPR (now the Premium Cigar Association) where he rose to be its president. Gary has been an active member of the board of Cigar Rights of America since 2009. He was elected chairman in 2021.
Owner, A. Fuente Cigars
Carlos P. Fuente (“Carlito”) is the President of Tabacalera A. Fuente. Like his father, Don Carlos, he has been in the cigar business his entire life. Together with his father, Carlito managed all aspects of the worldwide Fuente cigar manufacturing and distribution businesses until his father's passing. He divides his time between the Fuente cigar factories in Dominican Republic and traveling throughout the world representing the Fuente Companies.
Owner, Tatuaje Cigars Inc | Havana Cellars
At 22 years of age, Pete Johnson entered the tobacco industry in 1993 working retail in Los Angeles, California. In 1997 Pete was hired on as the Director of Retail for Grand Havana Enterprises, the parent company of the famed Grand Havana Room. It was there that his affinity for cigars grew into a passion and in 2003 he started his own cigar line aptly named Tatuaje, Spanish for “tattoo.” The blend, which was brought to life by Jose “Pepin” Garcia of My Father Cigars, was an instant hit and launched Pete and the brand into the spotlight.
Owner, Padrón Cigar Company
Jorge Padrón has been surrounded by tobacco his entire life. As a child, he spent his summer vacations working for the family business, Padrón Cigars Inc., learning the art of cigar making and tobacco processing at the side of his father, chairman Jose Orlando Padrón. He has spent more than 25 years growing his family's business.
CEO, ASHTON Distributors
Sathya Levin is proud to serve on the Cigar Rights of America board. He also leads Ashton Cigars, a father-and-son operation headed by Sathya with his father Robert Levin. Together, they preserve and build on the Ashton Cigar company’s extensive reputation for creating premium cigars of superior quality and lasting prestige.
Owner, Rocky Patel Cigars
It was the mid-1990s when the premium cigar market was drastically changing. Rocky Patel lived and worked in Los Angeles as an entertainment and product liability lawyer. Through a friend, Rocky was introduced to cigars and was instantly fascinated by them. He then became one of the original founding members of the Grand Havana Club in Los Angeles. While dabbling in various investment ventures, Rocky was approached with a business plan to manufacture cigars. The finished product flourished on the market.
Carlos Fuente, Sr.
Former Owner, A. Fuente Cigars
From a humble beginning in Ybor City, Florida, making cigars from his parents' home, Fuente Sr. built Fuente into an international powerhouse, with its cigars known and revered the world over. His company today makes more than 30 million cigars a year in Santiago, Dominican Republic, all of them by hand. Carlos was in the cigar business his entire life. Together with his son, Carlito, he managed all aspects of the worldwide Fuente cigar manufacturing businesses.
President and Founder, Corona Cigar Co. & Florida Sungrown, LLC
Jeff Borysiewicz is the founder and CEO of Corona Cigar Company and Florida Sungrown, LLC. In 2008, following a hard-fought legislative battle, Jeff, along with Keith Park, founder & CEO of Prometheus International, realized that the premium cigar industry lacked a true advocate in Washington, DC. This led to the creation of Cigar Rights of America (CRA). From 2008 to 2014, Jeff served as chairman of CRA. During his leadership, CRA grew from a small operation to an industry leader in tobacco policy. Today, CRA is the most prominent voice for premium cigar advocacy in Washington, DC.
Founder and CEO of Prometheus International and God of Fire Cigars
Keith Park started out working in his family's lighter importation business in California in the 1980's. In 1992, Keith launched the now-famous luxury lighter brand Prometheus. After the success of the Prometheus brand's expansion into collectible humidors, Keith found himself in discussions with Carlito Fuente in 2002, which lead to the creation of the God of Fire line of cigars. In 2008, Keith worked tirelessly to ward of a new round of tax legislation with Jeff Borysiewicz and other manufacturers, when they both realized the need for an advocacy group dedicated to premium cigars, and they helped found CRA.