The FBI released documents Monday stating that New York Yankees owner George 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 Associated Press 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 a newly released 1988 FBI 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 documents, included in the second release of Steinbrenner’s FBI file, also show that he blamed his illegal corporate campaign contribution to Nixon on bad legal advice.
The 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.
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.