Al Sharpton Denies He Was Ever A Matinee Hero Mob Informant For The FBI
Yesterday,The Smoking Gun published a ninety-zillion word story on Al Sharpton's time as an FBI informant who spent several years helping the bureau -- oh, sorry, The Bureau -- get leads on Mafia figures in the Genovese crime family, even using a wired briefcase to record conversations. And yet, despite the marketability of such an exciting narrative, Sharpton has so far disputed much of the Smoking Gun's story, and denies that he was an informant, insisting that he was actually the victim of threats from organized crime, and that therefore the limited cooperation that he gave the FBI didn't count as "informing," and no way was he an "informant." We can't for the life of us imagine why any public figure would want to deny their role in investigating the criminal activities of the mob, really.
The Smoking Gun story says that after being caught on tape discussing cocaine deals, Sharpton was persuaded to become an informant. He allegedly recorded a number of mob acquaintances, and those recordings were used to obtain warrants for additional surveillance, including phone taps, which eventually led to convictions of multiple mob figures. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Sharpton insists that he contacted the FBI after receiving death threats from Joseph ("Joe Bana") Buonanno because he was trying to get more African-Americans hired on the business side of the music industry.
“If you’re a victim of a threat, you’re not an informant -- you’re a victim trying to protect yourself,” he said.
So, definitely not an "informant," just a guy who helped out with gathering evidence because he feared for his life. Which is quite different. The Daily News interview details a few other aspects of the Smoking Gun story that Sharpton verified or disputed:
He acknowledged that his conversations with mob figures were recorded, but he denied using a bugged briefcase. He said he was never paid, but was occasionally reimbursed for travel. “I encourage kids all the time to work with law enforcement,” he said. “You’re acting like it’s a scandal for me to do that?”
He said the role of his information in bringing down mob figures was vastly exaggerated.
“I was never told I was an informant or I had a number or none of that,” he said. “Whether or not they used some of the other information they got during that period for other purposes, I don’t know.”
Sharpton's comments to NYDN were a slightly different spin from his previous denials of having worked with the FBI, as reported by the Smoking Gun:
He has alleged that claims of government cooperation were attempts by dark forces to stunt his aggressive brand of civil rights advocacy or, perhaps, get him killed. In his most recent book, The Rejected Stone, which hit best seller lists following its October 2013 publication, Sharpton claimed to have once been “set up by the government,” whose agents later leaked “false information” that “could have gotten me killed.”
The news has sparked lots of internet noise, including a charming piece at Daily Caller by all-purpose hateflinger Jim Treacher, who wasn't impressed that Sharpton may have helped put Mafiosi in prison, and instead introduced the story by chortling, "Snitches get riches!" He went on to make a funny joke about how all black preachers look alike to him (and they aren't actually "reverends," anyway, because come on, Jesus was white):
Was Sharpton the one who called Italians “garlic-noses,” or was that Rev. Wright? I get my racist, hate-spewing “reverends” mixed up sometimes. Well, apparently he was comfortable enough with the Mafia at one point to hang out with them without getting clipped, or whacked, or taken care of, or whatever you’re supposed to say.
You will of course be astonished to know that the commenters (seriously, never read the comments) caught on to that very subtle last bit, and speculated -- some in great detail and with much salivating -- about how much they're looking forward to Sharpton's inevitable murder by the Mafia. They seem nice.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.