Sliwa in Bahrain
March 26, 1954 |
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Known for||Founder of the Guardian Angels; radio host and media personality|
|Spouse(s)||Lisa Evers (1981-1995)
Mary Galda (2000–present)
|Partner(s)||Melinda Katz (2014–2015)|
Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, radio talk show host and media personality, and chairman of the Reform Party of New York State.
Sliwa attended Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit high school from which he was later expelled, 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.
In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13", a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City Subway.  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 1992, Sliwa received the prestigious Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
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. Sliwa stated that as of 2011, the Guardian Angels operate in nine countries and 82 cities around the world, with approximately 5,000 members.
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. He has also admitted to "faking several kidnapping attempts on himself to make himself seem more valuable to the public" he said in later statements.
In addition, there has been an allegation that Sliwa did not found the Guardian Angels, but rather that the group owes it origins to the Monroe Twins.
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. Still, Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin said evidence suggested Yannotti was the shooter.
Sliwa has also become a populist conservative radio talk show host. Sliwa's longtime broadcast partner is lawyer Ron Kuby, with whom he has hosted and with whom he currently hosts a weekday radio show at Noon on WABC-AM in New York City.
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 hosted both the morning and evening "drive time" shows on WNYM AM 970, but as of January 2, 2014, returned to WABC with Kuby for a new midday show, replacing Rush Limbaugh who moved to WOR AM.
Sliwa made weekly appearances as a commentator on NY1's Inside City Hall. He was suspended from the show for a month in April 2015 following sexual comments he made regarding New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, addressing himself as her "papi" and fantasizing about having sex with her. Sliwa defended his comments as satire.
Sliwa has been married two times. He married his first wife, Lisa Evers, 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.
After his separation from Mary, Sliwa announced plans in April 2012 to marry Melinda Katz, a former member of the New York State Assembly and New York City Council who was elected Queens Borough President in 2013. The New York Daily News of February 14, 2015 reported they separated on Election Day 2014. Over the previous five years, Sliwa had fathered two of Katz's children through in vitro fertilization. According to Sliwa in a radio interview, his children with Katz are being raised Jewish.
Sliwa has been sued by his ex-wife Mary; he is accused by her 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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Guardian Angels National Director Lisa Evers, 28, who will marry Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, 26, on Christmas Eve in Manhattan
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- 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