The former lawyer for one-time reputed crime family boss John "Junior" Gotti says the Rev. Al Sharpton isn't coming clean when he insists he never ratted out the mob to the FBI.
"I can tell you that he's trying to put a spin on it for his own purposes of self-preservation," Jeffrey Lichtman told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"Not that he's afraid that he's going to be killed, but he doesn’t want to lose that street credibility that ostensibly, I suppose, he has."
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On Monday, The Smoking Gun website
reported Sharpton had served as a paid informant in the 1980s to help the FBI put the squeeze on the New York City Mafia. Sharpton secretly recorded conversations he had with mob figures.
But the civil-rights leader insists he was not an informant, just "cooperating with an investigation" after receiving threats over his participation in the music business.
"I made the right decision.... The only thing I'm embarrassed by are those old fat pictures," said Sharpton, now the dramatically-thinner host of an MSNBC talk show.
Lichtman said he is skeptical of most anything Sharpton says.
"The truth is, I mean really, if anybody can believe a word he says post-Tawana Brawley, then you're a fool to begin with," he said, referring to Sharpton's unwavering support of the African-American teen who falsely claimed she was raped by six white men in 1987.
"The thing that doesn’t make any sense from Sharpton's side of the story is that he claims he was taping this large group of people because he was getting his life threatened," Lichtman said.
"Now, if you go to the FBI and say, 'Look, I'm getting my life threatened'... it's certainly possible that they'll wire you up and ask you to capture the guy who's threatening you on tape....
"Problem is that when he has the guy on tape who supposedly is threatening him, there's never any discussion of any threats, there's never any anger or any rancor. The fact is Sharpton obviously got caught in a compromising position and instead of facing a legal case, he decided to cooperate like so many other people of his ilk have done."
Lichtman said Sharpton had not been threatened.
"His life has never been in any danger, I think that's fairly obvious," he said.
"With all respect to Al Sharpton -- let's take it for a fact that he's a great civil rights leader today -- the Mafia, or whatever exists of it today, certainly thinks of him as nothing more than a clown."
Lichtman represented Junior Gotti — the son of late mob godfather John Gotti — in 2005, and successfully defended him against racketeering charges. His other clients have included the rappers Fat Joe and The Game.
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