Christopher “CJ” Sullivan, a veteran New York Post crime reporter who covered murder and mayhem on the streets of the Big Apple for more than two decades, died Sunday after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 66.
The veteran journalist, who also served as a clerk at the Brooklyn Supreme Court for nearly 30 years, died of complications from the illness at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.
The father of two was first diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, his sister Kathleen Sullivan Fierro told The Post on Monday.
At 6-foot-3, CJ had an overwhelming presence and was known among his colleagues as a tough, old-school street reporter. His loved ones remembered him as a “very generous, tough guy” who had a heart of gold and a wicked sense of humor.
“He was truly an unforgettable 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 comprehension. He always had an answer, always had something to say – and it was usually pretty funny.”
New York native Christopher Joseph Sullivan – known to many simply as CJ – was born in Yonkers and raised in the Bronx by his parents, William and Kathleen Sullivan. He was the youngest of four siblings, sisters Kathleen and Rosemary and his twin brother William.
“He often said that growing up on Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx was the best preparation for anything,” Sullivan Fierro said.
CJ had spent the last decade of his life in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
A long-time mail carrier, CJ worked the night shift part-time for nearly 18 years, primarily reporting on breaking Gotham crime news and high-profile arrests and indictments.
By day, CJ was a full-time civil 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, CJ broke with The Post after making a pitch and writing a story about a stripper who sued her plastic surgeon over a botched procedure.
“She wanted a more shapely butt and the doctor put breast implants in her butt,” Sullivan Fierro recalled in the article published in June 2000 with the headline: “Stripper Claims Her Butt Is a Doctor’s Career.”
It was the start of a long-running side business that eventually filled the Post’s pages with stories about corruption, crime and scandal throughout the Big Apple.
CJ is known for wearing an oversized blazer on assignments and often took notes with a pen and a thin reporter’s pad.
He loved exploring the themes of his story and sometimes took his two now-grown daughters — Olivia and Luisa — along for the ride, his sister said.
“He was about six feet tall.” He was a big guy. He looked like a police officer, and I think that’s why many reporters and photographers felt safe with him. He looked like a big old Irish cop,” Sullivan Fierro said.
CJ was popular with photographers and younger reporters because he took them under his wing, mentored them and gave them tips on their work.
“It was a privilege to have worked with CJ. He has been nothing but supportive, helpful and patient for young reporters like me who were just starting out in the industry,” said Lia Eustachewich, senior news editor at the Post.
“I will never forget the kindness that shone through his somber exterior. They just can’t get New York reporters to like CJ anymore. We will miss him immensely.”
“CJ was a classic, old-school street reporter. Although 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, Post chief of staff.
“His passion for the work we do was admirable and charming in its New York way. He was a wonderful guy, the real deal.”
In addition to his long career in court and as a detective for The Post, CJ also authored two books: “Wild Tales from the Police Blotter” and “1001 Greatest Things Ever Said About New York.”
“He really enjoyed exposing corruption and hypocrisy,” said Brian Berger, a longtime friend who texted him daily.
“But he also loved everyone. No bias – he could talk to the richest person or the poorest person of any ethnicity and people would respond. He always went out of his way to help people without it helping himself.”
“CJ was also an extremely funny guy with a dark, cynical sense of humor. Any scandal, any corruption, any crime – you could laugh at the darkest things,” Berger added.
CJ is survived by his siblings, daughters, girlfriend Sylvia Silva and “hundreds of friends who loved him like a brother,” his sister said.
“He told me in the last few weeks in the hospital, ‘I want you all to know that I love you’ – family, his friends, his colleagues, everyone,” Sullivan Fierro said. “He said it several times.”
CJ’s funeral service will be held Thursday at Hodder Farenga Funeral Home in Yonkers. His funeral service will be Friday at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx.