The Chicago Syndicate: Guardian Angel's Cab Ride from Hell
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Guardian Angel's Cab Ride from Hell

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Junior Gotti, John Gotti.

Radio host Curtis Sliwa captivated a federal jury with an action-packed account of how he was kidnapped and shot in a stolen cab by two alleged Gambino goons - and then narrowly escaped death by hurling himself out the window. Testifying at the trial of John "Junior" Gotti, who stands accused of hatching the plot to stop Sliwa from bad-mouthing his father John "Dapper Don" Gotti, the radio host described how a cab ride to work turned into a nightmare in which he was shot at "like a duck in a duck pond."

Sliwa, 51, said he sensed trouble when the taxi made a sudden wrong turn the morning of June 19, 1992. "Hey, Mack! Turn this hack around! You're going in the wrong direction!" Sliwa recalled barking at the driver.

Seconds later, Sliwa - founder of the Guardian Angels civilian patrol group - said he heard rustling in the front seat. "All of a sudden there was this guy who had popped up. His backside was on the dashboard. He was pointing a gun at me," said Sliwa. "The gunman said, 'Take this you son of a bitch,' " Sliwa told Assistant U.S. Attorney Joon Kim. "The gun sounded like a cannon . . . I saw the fire of the gun."

Sliwa said he heard three shots and felt excruciating pain in his abdomen and legs as he tried to escape the rear of the taxi, which had been stripped of its door and window handles. "I'm stuck in a corner. I'm thinking in a matter of seconds I'm going to be dead," Sliwa said. "He's shooting you like a duck in a duck pond."

The radio host said he grabbed his two-way radio and shouted, "Angel One! Code Red!" He said he then felt a gust of wind from the front passenger area as the speeding taxi rounded a turn. "I used the back seat like one would a trampoline. I bounced off there," Sliwa said, describing a death-defying stunt that propelled him past the gunman and through an open window. Sliwa said he underwent extensive surgery for damage caused by two bullets and was forced to wear a colostomy bag for a year.

This is the second time Sliwa has taken the witness stand against Gotti in Manhattan federal court. Last year a jury failed to reach a verdict on the kidnapping charge against Gotti and acquitted the alleged shooter. The admitted driver of the cab, mob turncoat Joseph D'Angelo, is set to testify.

Under cross-examination, Sliwa said he could not identify either the gunman or the driver, but said, "I had always been suspicious of the Gottis and the Gambinos."

Defense lawyer Charles Carnesi asked Sliwa if he'd said on his radio show that before he testified he planned to "rub onions in your eyes so you would be crying." Sliwa acknowledged making the statement, but said it was a joke. "I wouldn't do that," he said.

Sliwa also acknowledged six instances in the late 1970s and early 1980s when he staged acts of heroism to get positive media attention for his fledgling Guardian Angels group.

"I appreciated the opportunity of being able to tell the jury my story a second time," Sliwa said, speaking outside of court. "I should have been dead long ago."

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