(CNN) — Al Sharpton sharply denied Tuesday he did anything wrong when he disclosed information about the mafia to the FBI starting in the 1980s.
“I did what was right. I did what I was always raised in the values of a praying mother to do,” he said at a news conference in New York. “And I did what I tell kids every day, all over this country what they should do, and that is deal with getting guns and crime out of their community and cooperating with the law.”
While it’s been reported that Sharpton had previously assisted the FBI in cases involving celebrities, the website The Smoking Gun revealed Monday that the civil rights activist, MSNBC host, and friend of the Obamas was also involved in revealing secrets about five organized crime families.
Labeled in documents as “C1-7″ by FBI agents, the report said Sharpton especially cooperated with the federal agency, as well as the New York Police Department, to get dirt on the Genovese crime family. He reportedly carried a bugged briefcase to record conversations with mob bosses.
The report states that agents approached Sharpton after he was caught speaking to an undercover agent about drugs, though he did not explicitly offer to arrange a drug deal. That tape surfaced in 2002 in an HBO show as he was thinking about running for president.
In an interview on CNN’s “Crossfire” that same year, Sharpton explained the tape and denied he did anything wrong.
“One first would have to ask the question, Why would the FBI be trying to entrap me and then 19 years later come out with part of the tape, rather than coming out with the end of the situation, where we clearly said we wouldn’t do drugs,” he said, adding that the HBO show should have aired more of the tape, which would have told the whole story.
He added at the time that he didn’t know the dealer was an FBI agent until “later” when “they came and said that he was an undercover agent.”
Asked if he became an informant, Sharpton, as he’s done this week, fired back and disputed that being an informant is a bad thing.
“To cooperate with the government is – in those cases, informant? I don’t think so,” he said.
Sharpton reiterated Tuesday that the situation was being misconstrued, and he cast blame on the media for drawing conclusions that Sharpton’s assistance to the FBI had derived from legal troubles.
“And I guess the message (the media) want to give is ‘Don’t do that because some wanna act like you a turncoat, like you are a criminal.’ We’re not criminals. We’re not thugs. We are not those that find comfort having them in our community,” he said.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at an annual convention Friday in New York hosted by Sharpton’s organization, the National Action Network. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and three Obama Cabinet secretaries are also set to speak.
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