Debunking the Myth of the Mob

(Also published as a column in the Providence Journal http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/20181025/my-turn-joe-broadmeadow-ris-misplaced-affection-for-crime)

Many Americans have a macabre fascination with Organized Crime, the mob, or the Mafia depending on your preference. Rhode Islanders cling to the myth of Organized Crime like the memory of their first love. They’ve forgotten the pain of loss, clutching the pasteurized reminisces of infatuation. The mesmerizing allure of benevolent mob figures ruling the streets of Providence is a fallacy disproven by reality.

Mob

For a time in Rhode Island, two governments ran the state. One was elected by the voters. The other was a shadow government, unelected but more powerful, controlled by the mob under the leadership of Raymond L.S. Patriarca.

One ran for office every two years. The only limitation on Patriarca’s rule was mortality. Yet the organization continued after his death.

The constancy of change has taken its toll on the mob. The bodies dug up today are skeletons buried decades ago. The gunfire on the streets of the city is between rival gang members. Loosely affiliated drug distribution rings, lacking the organization of “this thing of ours,” now rule the streets.

But Rhode Island misses its first love, longing for a return to their days of self-deception. The mob has always been a promise more gorgeous than its realization, but many did not care.

The most telling sign of Rhode Island’s misplaced affection is the continuing fascination with the Mafia and the persistent myth of what they were.

Hollywood painted a noble veneer on the Mafia and gave us The Godfather, Goodfellas, and the Sopranos. They wrapped murder, extortion, hijacking, and loan sharking with catchy phrases and comic banter, making them appear legitimate.

People believed they were safer living under the ‘protection’ of the Mafia, ignoring their corrupting the courts, the cops, and government. Because they could leave their doors unlocked, they accepted paying more taxes because of mob-controlled contracts for construction, trash collection, and myriad other services.

The workingman on the way home could stop at the local bar and wager his family’s future on horse races whose outcome the mob dictated.

And people were okay with that.

When the money wasn’t there to cover the bet, the leg breakers came.

And they were okay with that.

When the mob ran a successful publicity campaign hiding their involvement in drugs, then flooded the country with heroin produced in mob-run laboratories or facilitated the rise of the cocaine business, people were okay with that.

Today’s Mafia may be diminished, but they are not dead. They’ve evolved like a malignant tumor sending out tentacles into new areas of society. They’ve branched out into new scams; gas tax fraud, online gambling, and wind power subsidies fraud while maintaining their hold on many labor unions.

The targets may have changed, the tactics have not. We can learn from the past once we strip away the fallacy of honor and respect.

The recent show, Crimetown (www.crimetownshow.com Season 1), unmasked the reach of corruption by the mob when it laid bare the infiltration of city departments and personnel under the Cianci administration.

In an upcoming book, Choices: You Make ‘em You Own ‘em, (Amazon.com) Jerry Tillinghast, one of the most recognized names of the Patriarca era, unmasks the reality of life within organized crime and the cost to us all.

I wrote the book with Jerry to understand the realities of how people follow such a path. I discovered much I did not expect. A troubling aspect of those years is how even well-intentioned efforts to curtail the mob can subvert the course of Justice.

Rhode Island’s misplaced affection for organized crime cost the people of Rhode Island. It is time to put it into perspective. To recognize that the reality of the mob is masked by misconception and willful self-deception.

Choices: You Make ’em You Own ’em

A story forty years in the making is about to be told. Writing this book with Jerry Tillinghast was an unexpected journey into the murky myth of organized crime. It is a story that will anger some, sadden others, but enlighten most about a long-held misconception of  La Cosa Nostra, “this thing of ours.”

CHOICES_3D_1080-150Click here to order your copy today.

From the back cover:

In a remarkably personal and intimate story, Jerry Tillinghast talks about his life and the choices he made.
Battling alongside his brothers on the streets of Providence. Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in Vietnam, and becoming a victim of the politics of that war. Returning to Providence as an angry young man and his choice to hang with the wise guys.
The cost of his reputation as a “feared mob enforcer” and the effect on his family. Meeting Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the notorious head of New England Organized Crime family, and how he came to embrace him as a father figure.
He reveals the inside story of the two of the most infamous cases in Rhode Island history; BondedVault and the George Basmajian Homicide.
Jerry was found not guilty after the Bonded Vault trial, but his luck ran out with the Basmajian murder. Convicted with Jerry was his brother, Harold Tillinghast. Since the moment of their arrest, Jerry has said just one thing.
Harold wasn’t in the car.
Jerry Tillinghast, a featured character on the Crimetown podcast, one of the most downloaded podcasts in the world, tells his life story with honesty and emotion. Setting the record straight after forty years of silence.
Silent no more…

Excerpt from Choices: You Make ’em You Own ’em

Release Date: November 1, 2018.

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.

CHOICES_3D_1080-150An 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…

Order the ebook for Kindle today before the price goes up on release date. Click to order here and sign up here for notifications of book signings and the book release party.

 

 

Choices: You Make’em You Own ’em

Choices: You Make’em You Own ’em

The Jerry Tillinghast Story

 

Now available at the pre-release price of $2.99 for Kindle, the long-awaited story of Jerry Tillinghast as only he could tell it. Click here for the Amazon link. Order it before the price jumps on release date and stay tuned for more formats and deals as they become available. Sign up for my email list and win one of five signed first edition print copies and the ebook version. Click here for the signup form.

CHOICES_Cover_Jerry_Tillinghast_Story-2018.07.27 (002)

Jerry Tillinghast talks about his life and the choices he made.
Battling alongside his brothers on the streets of Providence.
Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in Vietnam, and becoming a victim of the politics of that war.
His return to Providence an angry young man and his choice to hang with the wiseguys.
His reputation as a “feared mob enforcer” and the effect on his family.
Meeting Raymond L.S. Patriarca and how he came to embrace him as a father figure.
His brushes with the law and the two most infamous cases he is
forever linked to;

 

 

Bonded Vault and the George Basmajian Homicide

Silent no more…

Check out my website for my other books and exciting news on book signings and upcoming appearances.

www.authorjoebroadmeadow.com

 

Crimetown: Villains with (Questionable) Virtues

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.

PatriarcaThat “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.

Silenced Justice by Joe Broadmeadow @JBroadmeadow reviewed for #RBRT Corruption & Organised Crime #SundayBlogShare

Check out the latest editorial review of my novel, Silenced Justice

Author: Joe Broadmeadow Published: July 2015 by JEBWizard Publishing Category: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller Lieutenant Josh Williams is back in this latest thriller from Joe Broadmeadow, Silenced Ju…

Source: Silenced Justice by Joe Broadmeadow @JBroadmeadow reviewed for #RBRT Corruption & Organised Crime #SundayBlogShare