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“On March 14, 1986, a dark, cold, and quiet night in Providence, Rhode Island, an ex-con with a penchant for violence, dropped into a local bar. He didn’t realize he’d just entered lion territory, and the lions were hunting…”
It’s Just the Way It Was by Joe Broadmeadow and Brendan Doherty
Thus begins the opening lines of a soon to be released book, It’s Just the Way It Was: Inside the War on the New England Mob and other stories, by Joe Broadmeadow and Brendan Doherty.
In It’s Just the Way It Was: Inside the War on the New England Mob and other stories, Joe Broadmeadow and Brendan Doherty take you inside the investigations, covert surveillances, and murky world of informants in the war against Organized Crime.
no mistake about it, it was a war targeting the insidious nature of the mob and
their detrimental effect on Rhode Island and throughout New England.
the book reveals the extensive nature of Organized Crime throughout the United
the opening moments detailing a mob enforcer’s near death in a hail of gunfire to
the potentially deadly confrontation between then Detective Brendan Doherty and
a notorious mob associate, Gerard Ouimette, this book puts you right there in
books on the mob tell a sanitized story from the point of view of guys who
relished their time as mobsters. As Nicholas Pileggi, author of “Wiseguys,”
put it, “most mob books are the
egomaniacal ravings of an illiterate hood masquerading as a benevolent godfather.”
This is not that kind of
book. This is just the way it was.
The wait is almost over. The long-anticipated story, told by Jerry Tillinghast about his life, choices, and living with the consequences of those decisions, is soon to be released. Jerry reveals the truth behind the myth of organized crime and the highs and lows of the life as only someone who lived it can.
An excerpt from the opening pages;
The stolen car made its way along the side streets of Cranston, Rhode Island onto Interstate 95 south. Cloudy and drizzly, the winds of November cast a pall over the night. Three men, two in the front seat one in the back, came together for a single purpose that evening.
One knew it was a deadly deception.
As the car sped up, other vehicles followed behind. Three undercover police units, two driven by detectives from the Rhode Island State Police and one by an FBI agent.
The stolen car took the Airport Connector exit in Warwick towards T.F. Green Airport. The police surveillance team followed behind. As the stolen car negotiated the corner, the cops lost sight of the car. The snow fence along the roadside momentarily blocked the view. Different today than it was in 1978, the curving off-ramp put cars right onto Post Road. The police regained sight of the of the vehicle as it waited at the red light.
Just two men, both in the front seat, were now visible in the car. Uncertain if the third man had been dropped off, and concerned they may have been spotted, the police watched the vehicle turn onto Post Road and then down a side street into an industrial area. They backed off and waited.
After several minutes, the cops moved into the area to locate the car.
It didn’t take long.
Two investigators approached the car, noticing the windows were steaming up. As they peered inside, they saw George Basmajian, the primary object of their surveillance, lying on the back seat, dead or dying from bullet wounds to the head and chest. The medical examiner would later count nine bullet wounds, several of which were likely fatal.
Nine shots were a guarantee of fatality.
No one else was around the area. The other men vanished into the night. The cops knew who they needed to look for and headed out to find them.
And this is where the story diverges. But to understand the differences and perspective, we must return to the beginning. To go back to the routes of involvement of those connected to this case through their early choices and associations with organized crime…
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The series, Crimetown (https://gimletmedia.com/crimetown/), is a well-made production telling the story of organized crime and its effect on Rhode Island. While much of the story centers on Providence, the series illustrates the state and national implications of organized crime.
The producers, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier, did a masterful job of telling the story.
My issue with the series is with what followed.
Post-production images on social media of former investigators sipping cocktails with aging mobsters give the impression these were former opponents in the Super Bowl. Not opposing forces engaged in a fight against criminality.
These investigations of organized crime carried much higher implications to society. Law enforcement had its successes, but largely fought a battle it could not win.
The show, to some extent, perpetuated the many myths of the mob.
That “old school” mobsters didn’t deal drugs. That the streets of Federal Hill were safer when the mob ruled the neighborhoods.
All myths and fallacies whitewashing the truth.
If the mob could make money off cancer, it would.
If the mob didn’t deal drugs, they extracted a street tax from those who did. But the truth is it did more.
All one must do is read the story of The French Connection to see the mob’s early involvement in heroin. The latest revelations out of the Whitey Bulger case adds to the growing evidence of mob involvement in drugs.
The negative effect on society continues to this day, despite the ravages of time on ‘La Cosa Nostra.’ In Rhode Island, the legend of Patriarca lives on. The “I know a guy” wink and nod of doing business.
The once multi-tentacle reach of the mob into state government, the judiciary, and law enforcement may have faded, but the damage to confidence in government remains.
A former Major on the Rhode Island State Police, Lionel Benjamin, once compared the respect people had for (RISP) Colonel Walter Stone to the respect shown Raymond L.S. Patriarca by his men.
Really? That’s a standard we embrace in Rhode Island? This underscores my point.
To this day, if one mentions the name, Raymond, almost everyone in Rhode Island would know who that was. Not the same for Walter, which should make one wonder about such things.
Time has changed the mob. The ravages of age, nepotism, and cultural blending took their toll. They are a more nostalgic memory of “better” days than a powerful force. The state figured out a way to control gambling with the lottery and death, rather than indictments, silenced the once powerful men who ruled the Patriarca family.
Which brings me back to the point.
All those resources we sent after the mob, all those bookie wiretaps draining the lifeblood of organized crime, all those RICO indictments in Rhode Island and what do we have to show for it?
Images of once feared, amoral, and brutal men sipping cocktails with retired cops once tasked with arresting them. Talking about the old days like it was a football game.
It gives me pause.
Crimetown did a service by telling the story of what happened. Let’s make sure we don’t forget the ugly truth by continuing to embrace the myth of the mob. I’m willing to bet Raymond wouldn’t have had a Facebook page. He’d know better than to give people a peek into his reality.