NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – George Steinbrenner: legendary Yankees owner, controversial public figure and… FBI informant?
The FBI released documents Monday stating Steinbrenner assisted the agency in two investigations — one of them apparently a terrorism probe — in the years leading up to his pardon by President Ronald Reagan on a campaign-contributions conviction.
The newly released 1988 FBI memo disclosed Monday described one probe in which Steinbrenner assisted as “an undercover operation” that ultimately led to an arrest, prosecution and conviction. The FBI described the other investigation simply as “a sensitive security matter.” The FBI deleted all specifics about the probes before releasing the bureau’s file on Steinbrenner, who died last year.
A separate FBI document identifies the cases as “two national security matters” and says Steinbrenner assisted the bureau from 1978 to 1983.
“The Boss” knew he was involved in risky business. A 1987 letter by Steinbrenner’s lawyers about his assistance to the FBI says that the Yankees owner “knows that he placed the lives of his family and himself in jeopardy through being involved in a terrorist matter.”
Separately, the 1988 FBI memo says that Steinbrenner agreed to use Yankee Stadium for the staging of over 500 gambling raids against a major organized crime syndicate in New York City. A different site was ultimately chosen.
The AP and other news organizations requested the FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act following Steinbrenner’s death in July. The first release was made last December. The two releases combined totaled about 800 pages.
In the memo, the FBI said that it “supports the contention that George Steinbrenner has provided the FBI with valuable assistance.”
Seven months later, Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner for his convictions in a case involving campaign donations to President Richard Nixon and other politicians.
The files also include his application for a pardon, in which the Yankees owner says the conviction prevented him from voting, hurt his business interests, and limited his participation in civic, charitable and community affairs. He argued that a pardon “would permit me to contribute more of my services to the community.”
Then-baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Steinbrenner for two years after his 1974 plea, calling him “ineligible and incompetent” to have any connection with a baseball team.
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