- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, radio talk-show host Curtis Sliwa routinely denigrated late mob boss John Gotti and his cohorts as murderers, drug dealers, degenerates. His tone was so strident, prosecutors say, that Gotti’s son ordered an attack on the motormouthed founder of the Guardian Angels.

Make it personal, the younger Mr. Gotti purportedly told his gunsels.

Thirteen years after Mr. Sliwa took two bullets in a botched hit, he will finally go face to face with John “Junior” Gotti in a courtroom. Mr. Sliwa, who’s rarely at a loss for words, was expected to testify today in Mr. Gotti’s federal racketeering trial.

“I’ve been waiting 13 years for justice,” Mr. Sliwa said before the trial started last month.

Both native New Yorkers, they share an Italian heritage and a penchant for making headlines — but that’s about all they have in common. There’s no love lost between the son of the infamous “Dapper Don” of the Gambino crime family and the son of a merchant seaman.

It was Mr. Sliwa’s on-air slagging of the elder Gotti that purportedly prompted his angry son to order the June 19, 1992, attack.

Prosecution witness Joseph D’Angelo, a mob turncoat, testified that Mr. Gotti went as far as taking him on a tour of Mr. Sliwa’s Manhattan neighborhood to pick out a spot where the attack should occur.

Mr. D’Angelo said Mr. Gotti’s directions were very specific: “He’s getting personal. I want us to get personal.”

He said Mr. Gotti specifically mentioned Mr. Sliwa’s cracks about his father, who was then serving a life term on a racketeering charge.

Mr. Gotti purportedly only wanted Mr. Sliwa to take a beating when two mobsters inside a stolen cab picked up the radio show host. But the process was botched and mobster Michael Yannotti wound up shooting him, said prosecution witness Mr. D’Angelo. Mr. Yannotti then tossed the wounded Guardian Angel out the cab window.

Mr. Gotti has denied any involvement in the Sliwa shooting. Mr. D’Angelo testified that Mr. Gotti paid him $5,000 for the job.

Mr. Gotti, whose father died in prison in 2002, is accused of a conspiracy to kidnap Mr. Sliwa as part of racketeering charges that could jail him for 30 years.

Although the attack was intended to shut up Mr. Sliwa, it’s had the opposite affect. Mr. Sliwa, who co-hosts a morning radio show with liberal lawyer Ron Kuby, only increased his vitriol toward Mr. Gotti and the Gambino family after the shooting.

Long before Junior’s indictment, Mr. Sliwa was publicly putting the blame on the Gambinos. He did stop talking about the case briefly when Mr. Gotti was finally charged with the crime.

Mr. Sliwa, quite dramatically, then went into hiding over fears that he would be targeted for retaliation by the Gambino family.

He wasn’t and was soon back to his old ways on the radio.

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