Christopher “C.J.” Sullivan, a New York Post crime reporter who spent more than two decades covering murder and mayhem on the Big Apple streets, died Sunday after a lengthy battle with liver cancer. He was 66.
The veteran journalist, who also spent nearly 30 years working as a court officer at Brooklyn Supreme Court, died at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan due to complications from the disease.
The father of two was first diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, his sister, Kathleen Sullivan Fierro, told The Post on Monday.
A towering presence at 6 feet 5, C.J. was renowned among colleagues as a hard-hitting, old-school street reporter. Loved ones recalled him as a “very generous hard-ass” who had a heart of gold and a wicked sense of humor.
“He was really a memorable character. He was very funny. He loved to talk, he loved to tell stories. He loved to have a good time,” Sullivan Fierro said.
“He had a very quick wit. He always had a reply, always had something to say — and it was usually pretty funny.”
A native New Yorker, Christopher Joseph Sullivan – known to many simply as C.J. — was born in Yonkers and raised in the Bronx by his parents, William and Kathleen Sullivan. He was the youngest of four siblings, including sisters Kathleen and Rosemary and his twin brother, William.
“He often said growing up on Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx was the best preparation for anything,” Sullivan Fierro said.
C.J. had spent the last decade of his life living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
A longtime Postie, C.J. worked part-time on the night shift for nearly 18 years, mostly covering Gotham’s breaking crime news, high-profile arrests and arraignments.
By day, C.J. was a full-time civil court clerk at the Kings County Supreme Court — a position he held for 29 years before retiring in 2018.
Having previously written for the New York Press and Brooklyn Bridge magazine, C.J.’s break with The Post came after he pitched and wrote a story of a stripper who was suing her plastic surgeon over a botched procedure.
“She wanted a more shapelier backside and the doctor put breast implants in her booty,” Sullivan Fierro recalled of the article, published in June 2000 with the headline: “Stripper claims butt-head doc made career hit bottom.”
It was the start of a long-running side hustle that ended up filling the pages of The Post with tales of corruption, crime and scandal across the Big Apple.
Known for wearing an oversize blazer while out on assignment, C.J. would often take notes with a pen and skinny reporter’s pad.
He loved staking out his story subjects and would sometimes take his two now-adult daughters, Olivia and Luisa, along for the ride, his sister said.
“He was about 6-5. He was one big guy. He looked like a cop, so I think that’s why a lot of the reporters and photographers felt safe with him. He looked like a big old Irish cop,” Sullivan Fierro said.
C.J. was beloved among photographers and younger reporters for taking them under his wing, mentoring them and dishing out tips on the job.
“It was a privilege to have worked alongside C.J. He was nothing but supportive, helpful and patient to young reporters like myself, just starting out in the field,” said Lia Eustachewich, The Post’s managing editor of news.
“I’ll never forget the kindness that peeked out through his gritty exterior. They just don’t make New York City reporters like C.J. anymore. We will miss him endlessly.”
“C.J. was a classic, old-school street reporter. While nothing seemed to faze him, he had a big heart of gold and was a joy to work with for reporters and editors alike,” said Dan Greenfield, The Post’s chief of staff.
“His passion for the work we do was admirable and charming in its very New York way. He was a wonderful guy, the real deal.”
In addition to his lengthy careers in the court and on the crime beat for The Post, C.J. authored two books: “Wild Tales from the Police Blotter” and “1001 Greatest Things Ever Said About New York.”
“He really took joy in exposing corruption and hypocrisy,” said Brian Berger, a longtime friend who would text him daily.
“But he also loved everybody. No prejudice of any kind — he could talk to the wealthiest person, or the poorest person of any ethnicity and people responded to that. He always went the extra mile to try and help people, to no benefit to himself.”
“C.J. was also an extremely funny guy with a dark, cynical sense of humor. Any scandal, corruption, crime — you could get a laugh about the darkest things,” Berger added.
C.J. leaves behind his siblings, daughters, girlfriend Sylvia Silva and the “hundreds of friends who loved him like a brother,” his sister said.
“He was telling me the last few weeks in the hospital, ‘I want you all to know that I love ya’ — meaning the family, his friends, his colleagues, everyone,” Sullivan Fierro said. “He said it a number of times.”
C.J.’s wake will be held at the Hodder Farenga Funeral Home in Yonkers on Thursday. His funeral service will take place at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx on Friday.
The family is asking that donations be made in his memory to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which supports first responders and veterans, and Spectrum360, which provides adult services for people with autism and related disabilities.