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POP EYE

January 31, 1988|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

THE NAME GAME: Pop Eye has been reporting on the Rev. Al Sharpton, the flamboyant New York-based black activist, for years--most recently in 1984, when he was calling for a national boycott of concerts by black performers like Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson.

But this time the self-confessed "headline lover" has really made news. In a front-page story in the Jan. 20 issue of Newsday, Sharpton said he had been secretly supplying federal law enforcement agencies with information on boxing promoter Don King, and reputed Columbo and Genovese family organized crime figures as well as black leaders and elected officials.

So why are we betting that music industry execs are busy sending copies westward of this exclusive? Perhaps because Sharpton claims to have received a death threat from reputed mob associate Sal Pisello, who has been indicted on extortion charges and is due to go on trial March 21 for evading taxes on some $600,000 made from a variety of business deals with MCA Records between 1983 and 1985.

Sharpton told Newsday that he had a 1984 meeting with New York law enforcement officials where they asked him to "deal with mob stuff."

He added: "They got lucky. In the middle of this--it's 1984 and I'm threatening to boycott (the Michael Jackson concerts)--one of these nice mobsters threatened to kill me. Sal Posillo (sic). So right away I said, 'You guys want something. Here's a guy that wants to kill me, and I would love to give this guy up. They got a guy to sit on a meeting with me and let him threaten me on behalf of one of the biggest record company presidents in the business."

The Newsday story doesn't say why federal investigators apparently never followed up this charge. And they incorrectly stated that Pisello was indicted on extortion charges by the U.S. attorney here last July--actually, he is awaiting trial on tax evasion charges. According to Newsday, law enforcement officials would neither confirm nor deny Sharpton's claim that he was a government informant.

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