As a religious and political leader, community activist, political talking head, television host and author, Al Sharpton wears a lot of hats. But did he once wear a wire?
The Smoking Gun has an exhaustive report claiming Sharpton was FBI informant CI-7, who tipped the feds to information involving four of New York City’s five mafia families. The site that did the reporting is famous for celebrity mug shots and embarrassing court documents. In Monday’s 12,000-plus word report, they provided a slew of FBI, court and law enforcement documents to back up the claim.
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.
Sharpton has denied he was an FBI informant, but didn’t exactly slam the door shut when asked about his participation in mafia cases.
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."
Sharpton is no stranger to controversy, taking a strong role on several high-profile crime cases, including the 1987 Tawana Brawley case, where Sharpton supported a young woman’s allegations of rape and assault, which were later proven false. Sharpton also took a high-profile stand in support of the Crown Heights neighborhood after riots there in 1991. In 2008, Sharpton faced accusations of tax evastion.