On TV Leah Remini played a brash and rude housewife to the King of Queens. Off-screen the former sitcom actress was a manipulative, spiteful homewrecker who could have played the Stepmother From Hell.
Remini went so far as to pit two mothers against each other—threatening one that she would never see her child again—as she lashed out in pursuit of a married, philandering actor she described as “so f--ked-up” he was “perfect” for her.
The married man she sought is now her husband, Angelo Pagán, a part-time actor/lounge singer Remini called a “Cuban Frank Sinatra.” In Remini’s published memoir, and in the words of those who know her: she saw him, she wanted him, and she wrecked a family to get him.
— FORMER FRIEND
Years before he met Remini, Pagán fathered two children, Alex and Nico, with his then girlfriend Elaine Aviles. In December 1989, when the boys were one and three years old, Pagán sued Elaine for paternal rights. The judge gave her full custody and ordered Pagán to pay child support.
Three years later, Pagán married Raquel Williams and in 1993 they had a son, Angelito. At that point, Pagán made ends meet by singing in local clubs. That’s where Leah first laid eyes on the man, in 1996, at the El Floridita in Hollywood.
Remini returned to the club the following week, later admitting Pagán was her target. She soon learned he was married but later said she recognized him as a cheater. In fact, she wrote that he told her he was “kind of married.”
She told him that not only were they going to have sex—“right away”—but that they would be getting married “at some point.”
“Leah went after this relationship with venom and force to try and destroy this marriage…and ruined this guy’s relationship with his wife….And what’s worse is that they had a small [child],” said a former close friend of Remini.
“That’s the kind of person Leah Remini is. She sees something she wants, she’ll go to any length, any length, to get it.”
In her 2015 published memoir, Remini spins a confession that she realized she was destroying a marriage. Her Church, which has zero tolerance for unfaithfulness and promiscuity, did everything it could to help her make up the damage and set the matter right. She writes that she arranged marriage counseling for Angelo and Raquel, and soon saw the two “holding hands like newlyweds.” She met Raquel in person but couldn’t bring herself to make an apology.
And that is where any truth ends, as documented evidence reveals.
In Remini’s ending to the story, she parted ways with Angelo, albeit “dying of a broken heart.” And then, she wrote, she was “shocked” a few months later when Angelo reached out to her and told her things had changed: the philandering father of three had realized Raquel’s core values were not the same as his, and he had decided to leave her.
Shocking. Heart-rending. And mostly fiction.
Six years after inciting the illicit affair, Remini admitted that she had “manipulated Angelo into leaving Raquel.” As she detailed: “Angelo had paged me. I called him back and he was trying to sweet talk me. I knew that if I acted like I was over him” it would force the issue. “[I] said ‘Look, if you are gonna leave her, leave her. If you’re not at my house today with your bags packed, you can go f--k yourself.’
“I knew this would push him to do it,” she said. “He did it.”
Indeed, Pagán sued Raquel for divorce in May 1997. Remini paid all the legal fees for the divorce and subsequent court filings involving Pagán’s children.
Later that year, while the divorce was pending, Remini announced her “new boyfriend, Angelo Pagán” in an interview with TV Guide magazine. That got the attention of Star magazine, who contacted Raquel for comment on the news of Remini and Raquel’s husband. “She wanted him and she wasn’t going to stop at anything to get him,” Raquel told the tabloid.
“She has no idea what it’s like to be a wife and mother betrayed by your husband,” she added. “Leah didn’t care about destroying a family. She brags about Angelo, but what she’s not telling fans is that for two years she was a married man’s mistress.”
Before Pagán’s divorce from Raquel was final, Remini invited Elaine Aviles, the mother of Pagán’s first two sons, as a guest in her home, where the sons were living.
One big happy family it was not.
Elaine enjoyed friendly relations with Raquel, and the two mothers encouraged their half-brother sons to be close. Soon, however, Elaine saw through Remini’s plan for inviting her.
“It was becoming apparent to me that Leah’s motive in regards to me was solely for the purpose of me joining her in her campaign to harm Raquel,” Elaine wrote in a court document filed in Angelo and Raquel’s divorce case. “I let Leah know that her so-called war with Raquel had nothing to do with me….”
After the boys moved out of Remini’s home, Pagán reportedly did not see his sons for almost a year and a half and stopped paying child support for more than five months. In 1999, Elaine, who struggled to support herself and her sons, sued Pagán to recover the lost child support. According to a declaration Elaine filed in court, Remini told Elaine they “could no longer be friends.”
Documents reveal that for years Remini engaged in a campaign to estrange Elaine and Raquel and isolate the children from their mothers.
Remini went after Raquel with a vengeance in her attempt to vilify the wife whose husband she callously stole. Remini wrote that she “hired a private investigator to investigate Raquel indefinitely until he finds something on her.” She felt “just,” she said, in “not having [Raquel] in our lives.”
In February 2002, Elaine, now living in San Jose, allowed her son Alex to live with Pagán in Los Angeles for the remainder of the school year. In written court testimony, Elaine stated Remini and Pagán used the time as “revenge” against her for taking Angelo to court.
“[I] began to feel the wrath of Ms. Remini,” Elaine wrote. “Leah began to use swear words as a first language” and shouted “profanity and insults” against both her and Raquel. Elaine stated that in one phone call with Remini, “She began to speak of Raquel and me in an unhealthy negative way for my son to hear. She was screaming at the top of her lungs. I asked that she not speak in this manner in front of my son. She then shouted so that my son could hear, ‘Are you threatening me?’”
“She stated that she was not only not going to allow me to speak to my son [Alex] but that she would make sure that I wouldn’t see him either.”
Alarmed, Elaine went to visit Alex, by now 15 years old, to find out what was going on. Her son, she said, was surprised to see her. Alex told Elaine that Remini and his dad had told him that his mother “had abandoned him and didn’t want anything to do with him.” After spending the weekend with Elaine, Alex decided to return with her to San Jose.
Raquel became aware of the acrimony in the house and wrote to Angelo about the influence Remini had on all the boys. “Angelo, where is your spine? Why do you let her run you like her boy?” She offered a likely explanation for kowtowing to Leah: “She herself told me you owed her $50,000, and her mother, who handles all of her money, is pissed off at you….[Y]ou better get your shit together.”
Soon after Raquel’s letter, Pagán filed a request in court for modification of the terms of his and Raquel’s custody and visitation of Angelito. He claimed that Raquel was an uncooperative parent displaying “hostility and ill will” toward his girlfriend, Leah Remini. He attached Raquel’s letter as “evidence,” with no mention that it was Remini who tore the family apart.
In response, Elaine, Raquel and Raquel’s new husband, a police officer, all provided testimony that Remini was anything but a caring parent and often interfered in and disrupted familial relationships.
— RAQUEL [PAGÁN] WILLIAMS COURT DECLARATION
Raquel detailed how Leah forbade her any contact with her son, Angelito, when he was at Remini’s house on weekends. Pagán told her she was not to call Remini’s residence at any time while her son was there, because it was “Leah’s rule and he must abide by it.”
“Leah’s rule,” Raquel wrote, allowed Angelito to stay up as late as 2 or 3 a.m. and not do his homework. The boy’s grades suffered and his teacher reported he fell asleep in class.
Raquel also said Angelito got in trouble at school “for using the ‘f-word.’” The boy, she explained, attended a Christian school that allowed no profanity, and none was used in her home. Angelito told his mother he heard it “at Daddy’s house”—the house Angelo shared with Remini, who, Raquel noted, “admits openly that she has a ‘sailor’s mouth’ (i.e., that she swears a lot).”
Even more troubling was Raquel’s testimony that Angelito, then 9 years old, got in trouble at school “for talking about ‘naked girls and sex.’” The boy told his mother he got it from TV, again “at Daddy’s house.” Angelito’s older half-brothers confirmed that porn frequently played on the TV at Remini’s house late at night.
The court ordered Pagán to make every effort to minimize the amount of profanity the minor child was exposed to, and that Pagán and any “third person” were prohibited from making derogatory remarks about Raquel in the presence or within the hearing of the boy.
Leah Remini won the guy she had fought and schemed for, marrying Pagán in Las Vegas in 2003. The next year they had a child of their own, a daughter.
Two years after that, Angelo had an affair with another woman.
When a close family friend confronted him, Pagán reportedly admitted he “f--ked up,” but at the same time complained about the frequency and type of sex he had with his wife. Remini was reportedly “ballistic” over the affair.
One friend recalled that when Remini wailed about her hurt feelings over Pagán’s affair, he thought to himself, “‘Aren’t you the same girl that took this man from another? While he was married?’ And I started laughing to myself, ‘Wow, this girl [Leah] is insane.’”
But Remini once again turned to her Church, knowing they not only had no tolerance for unfaithfulness, but would be able to help the couple—and did. In fact, throughout her marriage while in the Church, Remini prided herself on never getting a divorce and on her ability to be a better wife because of Scientology.
Two years after leaving the Church, Remini was back to where she began with Pagán, calling her husband a “serial cheater.” Only this time, she’s on her own.