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Report: Al Sharpton Was Once a Paid FBI Informant on Mob

Image: Report: Al Sharpton Was Once a Paid FBI Informant on Mob

By Cathy Burke   |   Monday, 07 Apr 2014 04:44 PM

Activist and MSNBC host the Rev. Al Sharpton was once a paid FBI informant, known to agents as "CI-7" and passed along dirt on New York City mobsters, the Smoking Gun reported Monday.

"Confidential Informant No. 7," as his abbreviated code name meant, regularly funneled information about leaders of the Genovese crime family through secret wiretaps, the report said.

The website said it culled its information from confidential FBI affidavits obtained in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records, interviews with Genovese gangsters, and law enforcement officials.

"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," the Smoking Gun said.

"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," it said.

The Smoking Gun reported that Genovese squad investigators, representing both the FBI and the New York City Police Department,  said Sharpton "deftly extracted information from wiseguys," with one Gambino mobster so comfortable with the activist minister that he talked openly during 10 wired meetings about gangster goings-on – from "shylocking and extortions to death threats and the sanity of Vincent 'Chin' Gigante," the Genovese crime boss who acted insane to fend off scrutiny by the feds.

“Records obtained by [The Smoking Gun] show that information gathered by Sharpton was used by federal investigators to help secure court authorization to bug two Genovese family social clubs, including Gigante’s Greenwich Village headquarters, three autos used by crime family leaders and more than a dozen phone lines," the website said.

Sharpton acknowledged he was a one-time informant but said his role as a snitch was exaggerated, the New York Post reported.

“It’s crazy. If I provided all the information they claimed I provided, I should be given a ticker-tape parade,” Sharpton said.

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As to claims in The Smoking Gun report, which said Sharpton got onboard as an informer because he was frightened after being recorded during an undercover FBI drug sting — even though he didn't arrange to buy any drugs — Sharpton said it was he who contacted the feds after a mobster threatened him while he was acting as a concert promoter.

The Smoking Gun story said that wire taps were approved during the course of a racketeering investigation of the Genovese crime family.

The website said that eight separate federal judges, presiding in four jurisdictions, signed interception orders that were based on sworn FBI affidavits that included information gathered by Sharpton.

"The phones bugged as a result of these court orders included two lines in Gigante’s Manhattan townhouse, the home phone of Genovese captain Dominick “Baldy Dom” Canterino, and the office lines of music industry power Morris Levy, a longtime Genovese family associate," the website said.

"The resulting surreptitious recordings were eventually used to help convict an assortment of Mafia members and associates," it said.

According to the Smoking Gun, investigators used Sharpton's information in an application for a wiretap on a phone in the Queens home of Genovese soldier Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli. He was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 20 years during a trial in which the recordings were played, the website said.

“Poor Sharpton, he cleaned up his life and you want to ruin him,” Giovanelli told the website in a recent interview.

The report is not the first time Sharpton has been accused of working as a snitch.

In 2005, the New York Times reported that 10 years earlier, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, looking into reports of corruption in boxing, played audio and videotapes growing out of a 1980 FBI investigation.

On one tape presented by ex-FBI agent Joseph Spinelli, Sharpton is seen meeting with an undercover agent posing as drug kingpin and reputed gangster Danny Pagano, discussing ways of approaching boxing promoter Don King to arrange bouts and launder money, The Times reported.

At the same committee hearing, Michael Franzese, a former Colombo family Mafia captain who became a government snitch, testified that he'd used Sharpton to get close to King, adding: ''I knew Sharpton and was aware that he was associated with people in the Genovese family, in particular with family soldier Danny Pagano.''

Sharpton sharply denied it, The Times reported.

In a 2001 opinion piece in USA Today, columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote: "For sure, this one-time child preacher (he was ordained at 10) once was an FBI informant who helped the feds jail some drug dealers and mobsters."

"Newsday reported in 1988 that Sharpton also supplied federal prosecutors with information on several New York-area black politicians and boxing promoter Don King, a charge Sharpton strongly has denied," Wickham wrote.

President Obama is expected to be the featured speaker at a meeting later this week of Sharpton's National Action Network meeting in New York, the New York Post reported.

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