Sharpton contends that he first contacted the FBI in early-1984, immediately after his life was threatened by Salvatore Pisello, a wiseguy with music industry connections. As Sharpton tells it, Pisello was incensed that the activist was threatening to stage boycotts and demonstrations unless black promoters were given a piece of the upcoming “Victory Tour” featuring Michael Jackson and his brothers.
At a press conference at his Harlem headquarters, Sharpton claimed that Gambino soldier Joseph “Joe Bana” Buonanno set up the meeting at which Pisello threatened his life. In his autobiography, Sharpton reported that Pisello traveled from Los Angeles to New York to threaten him. The book, however, makes no mention of Buonanno, who is deceased, or his purported role in facilitating Pisello’s alleged death threat.
Sharpton did not bother to tell reporters how he knew Buonanno in the first place. Buonanno had been involved in the record industry for decades, and was business partners with Robert Curington, a convicted felon who also happened to be a close associate of Sharpton’s (and a vice president of the reverend’s not-for-profit National Youth Movement).
Concerned for his safety, Sharpton claims that he called the FBI in early-1984 and reported the Pisello encounter. In short order, the reverend began cooperating with federal agents. Spurred by the threat, Sharpton says he taped a series of ten face-to-face meetings with Buonanno--but not Pisello, the hoodlum who allegedly threatened the activist’s life.
Those Sharpton recordings--made with an FBI-issued briefcase containing a hidden recording device--spanned a three-month period beginning in April 1984, according to FBI records.
As Sharpton spun out this tale Tuesday, he claimed to have detailed the Mafia death threat in his 1986 book “Go And Tell Pharaoh.” He dismissed TSG’s review of this period of his life as “old news” since he had purportedly already written the story himself years ago.
However, while Sharpton’s book does refer to a menacing gangster named “Sal,” Buonanno does not rate a single mention. Additionally, Sharpton’s problems with “Sal” appear to have been settled quickly--and in the activist’s favor, according to the book.
Read More: The Smoking Gun