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Sharpton Defends His Cooperation with the Feds

The Rev. Al Sharpton says a report that he spied on New York Mafia figures for the FBI in the 1980s is old news and that he's not "a rat."

"I'm a cat because I chase rats," he said at a news conference at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem, according to Newsday.

"I'm not a mobster; I'm a preacher," the activist and MSNBC host said.

Sharpton, who is preparing for a national NAN convention to feature New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Barack Obama, addressed a story posted Monday on the website The Smoking Gun that said he had recorded conversations with mobsters while working with a police-FBI task force.

The site posted dozens of pages of documents that it said showed Sharpton's dealings with mob figures.

Sharpton: 'I'm Not a Rat, I'm a Cat, I Chase Rats' 1:04

Sharpton said he went to the FBI when he was threatened by mobsters in the music business and that he cooperated with the FBI but didn't consider himself an informant.

He said he did not know whether the recordings he made of Joseph "Joe Bana" Buonanno led to the downfall of other Genovese figures, including boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, infamous for walking around in a bathrobe as part of an alleged act to appear insane.

"We had conversations for the purposes of trying to get these guys to repeat the threats," Sharpton said, according to Newsday.

"The conversations were recorded, and I would record them today if someone threatened me."

He says his lawyers are looking at the documents posted on The Smoking Gun, which reported that Sharpton was known as Confidential Informant No. 7.

Sharpton’s role as an informant after a federal drug sting was first revealed in a multi-part, Pulitzer-nominated Newsday series in 1988, reported by a team that included Mike McAlary, Bob Drury, Robert Kessler and Richard Esposito, now Senior Executive Producer for Investigations at NBC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.