The Smoking Gun reports that:
A lengthy investigation by The Smoking Gun has uncovered remarkable details about Sharpton’s past work as an informant for a joint organized crime task force comprised of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, as well as his dealings with an assortment of wiseguys.The article further states that:
Beginning in the mid-1980s and spanning several years, Sharpton’s cooperation was fraught with danger since the FBI’s principal targets were leaders of the Genovese crime family, the country’s largest and most feared Mafia outfit. In addition to aiding the FBI/NYPD task force, which was known as the “Genovese squad,” Sharpton’s cooperation extended to several other investigative agencies.
TSG’s account of Sharpton’s secret life as “CI-7” is based on hundreds of pages of confidential FBI affidavits, documents released by the bureau in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records, and extensive interviews with six members of the Genovese squad, as well as other law enforcement officials to whom the activist provided assistance.
Like almost every other FBI informant, Sharpton was solely an information source. The parameters of his cooperation did not include Sharpton ever surfacing publicly or testifying on a witness stand.
Genovese squad investigators--representing both the FBI and NYPD--recalled how Sharpton, now 59, deftly extracted information from wiseguys. In fact, one Gambino crime family figure became so comfortable with the protest leader that he spoke openly--during ten wired face-to-face meetings--about a wide range of mob business, from shylocking and extortions to death threats and the sanity of Vincent “Chin” Gigante, the Genovese boss who long feigned mental illness in a bid to deflect law enforcement scrutiny. As the mafioso expounded on these topics, Sharpton’s briefcase--a specially customized Hartmann model--recorded his every word.
In an interview Saturday, Sharpton again denied working as a confidential informant, claiming that his prior cooperation with FBI agents was limited to efforts to prompt investigations of drug dealing in minority communities, as well as the swindling of black artists in the recording industry. He also repeatedly denied being “flipped” by federal agents in the course of an undercover operation. When asked specifically about his recording of the Gambino crime family member, Sharpton was noncommittal: “I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no.”More specifically, the article alleges that:
If Sharpton’s account is to be believed, he was simply a concerned citizen who voluntarily (and briefly) joined arm-in-arm with federal agents, perhaps risking peril in the process. The other explanation for Sharpton’s cooperation--one that has uniformly been offered by knowledgeable law enforcement agents--presents the reverend in a less noble light. Worried that he could face criminal charges, Sharpton opted for the path of self-preservation and did what the FBI asked. Which is usually how someone is compelled to repeatedly record a gangster discussing murder, extortion, and loan sharking.
In the course of an investigation being run by Spinelli and his partner John Pritchard, Sharpton was secretly recorded in meetings with an FBI undercover agent posing as a wealthy drug dealer seeking to promote boxing matches.The United States government and reactionary forces have a long history of attacking black leaders and organizations. In fact, under the Cointelpro, the U.S. government sought "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" black organizations, their leaders, spokesmen and members. Our enemies discredited and neutralized leaders like Marcus Garvey, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton and many others.
During one meeting with Sharpton, the undercover agent offered to get him "pure coke" at $35,000 a kilo. As the phony drug kingpin spoke, Sharpton nodded his head and said, “I hear you.” When the undercover promised Sharpton a 10 percent finder’s fee if he could arrange the purchase of several kilos, the reverend referred to an unnamed buyer and said, “If he’s gonna do it, he’ll do it much more than that.” The FBI agent steered the conversation toward the possible procurement of cocaine, sources said, since investigators believed that Sharpton acquaintance Daniel Pagano--who was not present--was looking to consummate drug deals. Joseph Pagano, an East Harlem native who rose through a Genovese crew notorious for narcotics trafficking, spent nearly seven years in federal prison for heroin distribution.
While Sharpton did not explicitly offer to arrange a drug deal, some investigators thought his interaction with the undercover agent could be construed as a violation of federal conspiracy laws. Though an actual prosecution, an ex-FBI agent acknowledged, would have been “a reach,” agents decided to approach Sharpton and attempt to “flip” the activist, who was then shy of his 30th birthday. In light of Sharpton’s relationship with Don King, FBI agents wanted his help in connection with the bureau’s three-year-old boxing investigation, code named “Crown Royal” and headed by Spinelli and Pritchard.
In subsequent denials that he had been “flipped,” Sharpton has contended that he stiffened in the face of the FBI agents, meeting their bluff with bluster and bravado. He claimed to have turned away Spinelli & Co., daring them to “Indict me” and “Prosecute.” Sharpton has complained that the seasoned investigators were “trying to sting me, entrap me…a young minister.”
In fact, Sharpton fell for the FBI ruse and agreed to cooperate, a far-reaching decision he made without input from a lawyer, according to sources. “I think there was some fear [of prosecution] on his part,” recalled a former federal agent. In a TSG interview, Sharpton claimed that he rebuffed the FBI agents, who, he added, threatened to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury investigating King. After being confronted by the bureau, Sharpton said he consulted with an attorney (whom he declined to identify).
The Smoking Gun article is an obvious example of such an effort. Clearly, the goal of that article is to discredit Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama. Even worst, the Smoking Gun may incite, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the mafia to kill Rev. Sharpton. Furthermore, shortly after Rev. Sharpton's National Action Network announced that President Obama will be the keynote speaker at their national convention, the Smoking Gun published that article. That timing is not a coincidence.
The Smoking Gun's attempt to discredit Rev. Sharpton fails for the following reasons. First of all, the events described in the article happened over thirty years ago. Second, the mafia is a scourge that should be eradicated. They flood our communities with drugs and guns. They are responsible for murder, extortion, prostitution, gambling and other despicable crimes. Al Sharpton should be commended for helping law enforcement arrest and imprison those thugs. Finally, in light of the F.B.I.'s abysmal track record in the black community, they have less creditability than Rev. Sharpton. Their account of how Sharpton became an informant is questionable. Since Rev. Sharpton has a history of challenging racist police officers, it is not unlikely that former F.B.I. agents would distort the facts in order to discredit Rev. Sharpton.
We cannot allow the opposition to deceive us. Rev. Al Sharpton is a soldier in the struggle for civil rights. He stands up against police brutality, racial profiling, injustice and other forms of racism. He demonstrated in support of affirmative action. He was there for Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, the Jena Six, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and countless others. He has devoted his life to social justice. For those reasons, I stand with Rev. Al Sharpton.