The Reverend Al Sharpton is denying new reports he worked for the FBI — at least as an informant.
According to a new report coming from The Smoking Gun — a website known for publishing public documents often for shock value — the 69-year-old civil rights activist and TV show host led a secret life as "CI-7," or confidential informant number 7, in New York City years ago.
"Documents on The Smoking Gun website allege that Sharpton secretly recorded conversations with mob figures in the 1980s using a bugged briefcase." (Via CBS)
During a press conference Tuesday, Sharpton reportedly said he was merely cooperating with the FBI, and the only thing he regrets are "those old fat pictures" being shown with the reports. (Via OWN / "Oprah's Next Chapter")
He admitted to working with the FBI for two years but denied ever being an informant. According to Time, he said, "The conversations were recorded, and I would record them today. We are victims trying to stop something.”
But the hundreds of pages of documents, interviews and court records obtained by The Smoking Gun using the Freedom of Information Act paint a different picture. (Via The Smoking Gun)
The documents reportedly claim that Sharpton worked for a crime task force that targeted the notorious Genovese crime family. (Via Wikimedia Commons / christian razukas)
The report says he was brought on as an informant after he was caught on tape discussing cocaine deals with a drug kingpin.
He was reportedly threatened with charges, but federal agents were able to convince him to snitch on mobsters instead. (Via Wikimedia Commons / David Shankbone)
When asked about this by The New York Times, Sharpton denied being "flipped" by authorities or any involvement with the mob at all. "The claim is I helped get the mob, not that I was in the mob. I was never told I was an informant."
In a separate interview with the New York Daily News, he said he contacted federal agents for help after receiving death threats for trying to help African-Americans succeed in 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. I encourage kids all the time to work with law enforcement, you’re acting like it’s a scandal for me to do that?"
Sharpton says he only agreed to help authorities to "get bad guys out of the music industry." He has repeatedly denied he ever got paid for his efforts or that he used a bugged suitcase.