DURHAM, NC — A drug trafficker who worked for Al Sharpton’s nonprofit in the 1980s said that despite the preacher’s denials, he was eager to get a slice of the lucrative drug deal captured on FBI surveillance video.
“It was greed. He just wanted money,” Robert Curington, 72, told The Post during a two-day interview at his North Carolina home, detailing for the first time how Sharpton stepped into the FBI’s trap — and was then forced to become a federal informant.
Sharpton has said he showed interest in the drug deal only because he feared the undercover agent was armed. He also claimed that he snitched for the feds — as first reported by The Smoking Gun this week — because the mob was threatening him.
Curington called all of that a tall tale.
He instead provided a detailed account of how Sharpton wined and dined a man he thought was a South American drug lord — and said Sharpton met him not just once, but three times.
Sharpton’s saga began in the Manhattan offices of boisterous boxing big shot Don King in 1983, Curington said.
An unnamed felon trying to duck a 30-year prison sentence promised the feds he could help them nail King on coke-dealing charges.
An undercover FBI agent, using the name Victor Quintana, set up a meeting with King to discuss a boxing match in the Bahamas — but King had a bad feeling about the potential business partner and pawned him off on Sharpton.
Don King in 2002.
“King was sly — he knew something was off about this,” Curington said. “So he kept him downstairs and let his new best friend Al Sharpton talk to him.”
Sharpton was eager to help, and “would spend cash taking him to dinner and chauffeur him around in a limo, feeling him out,” Curington said.
Then, at a restaurant, “they are talking and cutting their steaks. The agent’s voice changes, midstream, and he says, ‘I know where 10 kilos of cocaine are and we can make some big money on this.’
“Sharpton didn’t roll alone — he had a friend or adviser with him who says, ‘Hold it! This meeting is over. You come in here talking about boxing and now you’re gonna talk about cocaine? Let’s go, Al. We’re not into that.’
“Sharpton was hesitant to leave,” Curington remembered. “I believe he wanted to hear him out, but he listened to his friend.”
Sharpton met with Quintana a second time, in a hotel. Again, cocaine came up, and Sharpton’s pals called off the meeting.
At the third meeting with Quintana, Sharpton made sure to go alone — wearing a cowboy hat and chomping on an unlit cigar, which was made famous in footage from the FBI surveillance leaked in 2002.
“The agent said you would get $3,500 per kilo,” said Curington, who was not at the meetings but was told about them by Sharpton.
“Sharpton moved on it, and they sprung the trap on him right away. They got him.
“Al told me himself. He bit and took the bait.”
“HE WAS LIKE TWO PEOPLE. HE RAN AROUND TRYING TO SCORE MONEY FOR HIS NATIONAL YOUTH MOVEMENT. BUT YOU CAN’T BE AN ACTIVIST AND AN OPPORTUNIST.”
And once he was caught, he had no choice but to wear a wire to save his ample hide from prison.
“Sharpton said they could do whatever they wanted with him after that,” Curington said. “Because they had him. Either he worked for them or they put that news out there that he was into coke.”
Curington, a former record producer and music promoter who served two years in prison in the late 1970s on drug charges, served as an executive at Sharpton’s National Youth Movement in the 1980s.
Sharpton said on Friday that it is “not true” that he was at three separate meetings with the undercover agent where cocaine was discussed.
“Bob Curington is blatantly wrong,” said Sharpton, adding that if the repeated meetings were true, he could have claimed entrapment by the government.
He also claimed again that he became a snitch not because of the drug sting, but because of threats by the mob.
Curington said the activist put on a good show with his bluster and conviction — but inside, Sharpton was terrified of his FBI role, recording murderous mobsters like Joseph “Joe Bana” Buonanno.
“He was absolutely frightened about the job he had to do for the FBI,” Curington said. The feds trained Sharpton immediately, and “he didn’t know how to handle it.”
“He was really tormented. I told him, ‘You should have just listened to your advisers. Because you’re in deep.’ I said, ‘Why are you talking to these types of people?’ He was just greedy. It was all for money.”
Even as he preached against the ravages of crack cocaine on the inner city, Sharpton loved the white powder, Curington said.
When asked about his cocaine use, Sharpton said, “Absolutely, unequivocally no.”
Curington also said Sharpton only had money on his mind.
“He was like two people,” he said. “He ran around trying to score money for his National Youth Movement. But you can’t be an activist and an opportunist.”