Al Sharpton has been called many names. Add CI-7 to that list.
According to a lengthy report published by the Smoking Gun news website, Sharpton was a confidential FBI informant—code named CI-7—for several years in the mid-1980s.
On Monday, the Smoking Gun published documents that purport to show that the current host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC was once an informant. According to the news site, Sharpton carried a briefcase fitted with a recording device that he used to tape conversations that detailed mob hits, extortion schemes and the activities of Genovese crime family.
Sharpton met with Genovese boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante and had several face-to-face meetings with the notorious Gambino family member Joseph "Joe Bana" Buonanno.
Sharpton was paid small amounts for information he turned over to FBI agent John Pritchard, the website reports.
According to New York's Daily News, Sharpton was pressured into becoming an informant after being caught on tape discussing cocaine deals with a drug kingpin in 1988, an accusation Sharpton has long disputed. The FBI reportedly flipped him to report on his Mafia connections by threatening him with charges related to the taped conversations about cocaine deals.
Sharpton told the Daily News that he had not been an informant but, rather, was a victim of threats from the Gambino crime family. "If you're a victim of a threat, you're not an informant—you're a victim trying to protect yourself," he told the Daily News.
"I encourage kids all the time to work with law enforcement,” he added. "You're acting like it's a scandal for me to do that?
"I was never told I was an informant or I had a number or none of that," Sharpton told the Daily News. "Whether or not they used some of the other information they got during that period for other purposes, I don't know."