Excerpt Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and the Man in the Middle

Here’s an excerpt from the book Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and the Man in the Middle. The book takes you inside the world of mob-controlled nightclubs, backroom deals, and political corruption in the times of Buddy Cianci and his turbulent administrations as witnessed by the man in the middle, Pat Cortellessa.

Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and the Man in the Middle release date August 16, 2021. Order it here.

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In the 1950s, Providence, Rhode Island, a gritty, working class city striving to compete with its big brother, Boston, and not-so-distant cousin, New York, had one thing neither of those cities could claim.

Providence had Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the head of the New England Mob and one of the most respected (among those in the organization) and feared (among those who crossed him) bosses in Organized Crime.

Nothing happened in Providence, at least in the criminal underbelly and backroom politics, that Patriarca didn’t know about, manipulate, control, or profit by. All one had to do was invoke the name, Raymond. No last name or further explanation was needed.

Into this world, two men, Vincent Albert “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. and Pat Cortellessa grew up. While Buddy was fifteen years older, their paths worlds apart—Cortellessa came from the West end of Providence and went to public schools. Cianci was born into an upper middle-class family and went to Moses Brown—their lives would be intertwined in ways neither could have imagined.

And the organization controlled by Raymond would cast a shadow over both men.

Pat Cortellessa was born in 1956 and lived on the corner of Chapin Avenue and Messer Street in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a neighborhood of mostly Italian families, triple decker houses, and neat yards. Where the grandparents were on one floor and their kid’s families lived above them. Even if the family outgrew the house, they didn’t move far. Staying in the surrounding streets of the west end of Providence. 

When Pat was a kid an older neighbor, Joe Paris, would load up his car and take the neighborhood boys to the Rhode Island Red’s hockey games at the R.I. Auditorium on North Main Street. The Red’s played in the old AHL (American Hockey League), the original feeder system to the NHL. The days of the Red’s playing at “the Arena”—as the place was known—offered kids and adults a chance to see hockey played in all it’s original, often bloody, glory.

No masks, no helmets, few pads. Lots of action between big men on skates and the only thing separating them from the crowd was a short wall and chicken wire.

But before there was the politics of Cortellessa running against Cianci, there was the Providence Club scene, the payoffs and bribes of liquor licenses, the “rent” paid to the mob for protection, and the always volatile mix of alcohol, pretty women, and testosterone-fueled muscle heads with too much brawn and too

Joe Broadmeadow, Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and the Man in the MIddle

No one worried about letting their kids go to the arena. It was a different era in a city and country where World War II was still a powerful memory, the Korean Conflict became the forgotten war, and Vietnam was a place few Americans had even heard of let alone find on a map.

The West End of Providence in the 1950s and 60s was a world away from the East side where Buddy Cianci, already fifteen years old when Pat was born, would attend private school, followed by college and law school. Pat would take a more pedestrian public-school path. Yet their respective careers, politics for one and running restaurants and clubs for the other, would culminate in first a business association, then a friendship, then a break that would drive them both to face each other in the political arena.

One would end up in prison, the other would dance a fine line between the world of the wise guys, the seductive lure of the nightclubs and bars, and the world of politics. Their unlikely association would forever intertwine them in the history of Providence.

But before there was the politics of Cortellessa running against Cianci, there was the Providence Club scene, the payoffs and bribes of liquor licenses, the “rent” paid to the mob for protection, and the always volatile mix of alcohol, pretty women, and testosterone-fueled muscle heads with too much brawn and too under-utilized brains.

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6 thoughts on “Excerpt Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and the Man in the Middle

  1. A real spellbound account of Providence politics and the unofficial local government of mob influence

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