Sliwa in Bahrain, January 2007
March 26, 1954 |
|Known for||Founder of the Guardian Angels; radio host and media personality|
Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, and radio talk show host and media personality.
In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13," a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City subways. At the time, the city was experiencing a crime wave. The Magnificent 13 grew and was renamed the Guardian Angels in 1979. The group's actions drew strong reactions, both positive and negative, from the police, public officials, residents and the media. Throughout the early 1980s the group's distinctive uniform, a military type red beret and white insignia t-shirt, became recognizable as the group grew and courted media attention.
In the early 1980s, he became active in Buffalo, New York and was often critical of local police policies and practices. Sliwa continues to act as the President of the organization and oversees its worldwide operations. His wife Mary was Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. He frequently visits chapters throughout the world and graduates new chapters. As of 2011, Sliwa states that the Guardian Angels operate in nine countries and 82 cities around the world, with approximately 5,000 members. Sliwa went on to become a populist conservative radio talk show host.
Sliwa admitted that he had fabricated several of the Angels' exploits, including a false allegation that he had been kidnapped in 1980 by off-duty transit officers. As well as admitting to "faking several kidnapping attempts on himself to make himself seem more valuable to the public" he said in later statements.
On June 19, 1992, Sliwa was kidnapped and shot by two gunmen after entering a stolen taxi in Manhattan. The taxi picked up Sliwa near his home in the East Village and a gunman hiding in the front passenger seat jumped up and fired several shots, hitting him in the groin and legs. The kidnapping was apparently foiled when Sliwa leapt from the front window of the moving cab and escaped. Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds.
Federal prosecutors eventually charged John A. Gotti, the son of Gambino crime family leader John Gotti, with the attempted murder, among a raft of other charges. Prosecutors claimed that Gotti was angered by remarks Sliwa had made about his father on his radio program. However, after three attempts to try him, the last on September 20, 2005, three separate juries were unable to agree to convict Gotti on all of the charges brought against him and the charges were dropped. Jurors later told reporters they did believe he had a role in Sliwa's shooting. Prosecutors declined to re-try Gotti and dismissed the charges against him. Sliwa has said he would seek damages in civil court. Michael Yannotti, a Gotti associate, was also charged with shooting Sliwa in the incident but was acquitted. Yannotti, however, was sentenced to 20 years on an unrelated racketeering charge. Judge Scheindlin, however, said evidence suggested Yannotti was the shooter.
Career in radio
Sliwa has been a radio broadcaster for more than two decades, most of that time on WABC, where he began his career in 1990. In 1994, the then city-owned and operated WNYC hired Sliwa, who had been released by WABC. Some, including Sliwa, have suggested that he was forced on the station by newly elected mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he had supported in the mayoral race. Sliwa stayed four months in the position before moving back to commercial radio.
He was back at WABC in 1996, and in 2000 he became the co-host, with attorney Ron Kuby, of the long-running Curtis and Kuby in the Morning. The show lasted eight years before Citadel Broadcasting replaced the team with Don Imus. The Curtis Sliwa LIVE program began national syndication on Dec. 1, 2008. WABC retained Sliwa until November 2009, when his show was cancelled after a contract dispute. He currently hosts both the morning and evening "drive time" shows on WNYM AM 970.
Sliwa is known for his various nicknames and catchphrases. He often jokingly refers to acts of police brutality as "wooden shampoos".
Sliwa attended but was expelled from Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit high school, and graduated from Canarsie High School, a New York City public high school. Prior to founding the Guardian Angels, he was night manager of a McDonald's restaurant on Fordham Road in The Bronx. Sliwa and his second wife, Lisa Evers, married in 1981. At the time, she was National Director of the Guardian Angels; she also co-hosted a WABC radio show called "Angels in the Morning". Lisa, a martial arts expert who briefly trained with the World Wrestling Federation in 1986, is now a television reporter and radio personality. Sliwa and Evers divorced in 1995. In 2000 Sliwa married his third wife, Mary Galda, a former WABC employee who also served as the Guardian Angels' national director; they have one son, Anthony Chester. Now separated, Sliwa announced plans in April 2012 to marry Melinda Katz, a former member of the New York State Assembly and New York City Council. Over the previous five years, Sliwa had fathered three of Katz's children through in vitro fertilization. According to the New York Post, Sliwa plans to raise his children Jewish. 
Sliwa is involved in a court case involving Katz, accused by his ex-wife Mary of diverting money to Katz while still married to Mary as part of a plan to build a "nest egg" with Katz prior to moving in with her.
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- "James Cunningham, Buffalo Police Commissioner, Dies". The New York Times. Associated Press. January 22, 1984.
- Gonzalez, David (November 26, 1992). "Police Union to Sue Sliwa Over Hoaxes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- Lambert, Bruce (October 29, 1995). "Guardian Angels Lose Home Base on Restaurant Row". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
- Bennet, James (June 21, 1992). "Koch Visits Sliwa as Investigation Fails to Yield Shooting Suspect". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- Neumeister, Larry (September 28, 2006). "3rd Gotti Jr. Trial Ends in Mistrial". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
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- Witchel, Alex (November 12, 1992). "BACK ON THE STREET WITH: Curtis Sliwa; Not Invincible, but Standing Fast". The New York Times.
- Couric, Katie (December 18, 2005). "Aleta St. James' journey to motherhood". MSNBC.
- "Brooklyn's Favorite Crime-fighter, Curtis Sliwa, Is Honored by Local Politicians" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 6, 2008.
- "Curtis Sliwa, CEO and Founder". Guardian Angels. Archived from the original on September 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- Carter, E. Graydon (December 28, 1981). "People: Dec. 28, 1981". TIME. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. "Guardian Angels National Director Lisa Evers, 28, who will marry Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, 26, on Christmas Eve in Manhattan"
- Bernstein, Fred (February 8, 1982). "In a Time of Tragedy and Growth, the Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Relies on His New Wife, Lisa". People.
- "Guardian Angel Embodies The Right Attitude". Chicago Tribune (Montreal Gazette). July 21, 1986.
- Burke, Cathy (July 9, 2000). "Angel No. 1 Ties Knot with Bride No. 3". New York Post.
- Zambito, Thomas (June 14, 2006). "Gotti Goons Target My Boy: Sliwa". Daily News (New York).
- Karni, Annie (April 14, 2012). "Sliwa’s a parent & Guardian to secret donor kids with fmr. City Councilwoman Melinda Katz". New York Post. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- Chung, Jen (April 15, 2012). "Curtis Sliwa Was Ex-Council Member Melinda Katz's Sperm Donor And Now They're Getting Married". Gothamist. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- "Curtis Sliwa to Raise Jewish Family". Jewish News on April 15, 2012. CrownHeights.info. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- "Curtis Sliwa Reveals Secret Family, Will Raise Kids Jewish (VIDEO)". April 15, 2012. Algemeiner.com. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- "Curtis Sliwa Homepage".
- James Fanelli, DNAinfo New York, Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Swindled Wife During Affair, Lawsuit Says, May 9, 2013
- Dareh Gregorian, New York Daily News, Curtis Sliwa Child-Support Trial: Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz Gets Grilled, December 11, 2013
- Sliwa's MySpace page
- 2008 Moment Of Thanks video of Sliwa thanking the Armed Forces
- Williams, Timothy (2006) Sliwa, a Gotti Antagonist, Is Called by the Defense This Time The New York Times, September 6th, 2006
- Sliwa introducing stickball to Cuba, 2004 on YouTube