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Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, was a lot of things in his life. He's most noted as the most notorious Mayor in the history of Providence, Rhode Island. His meteoric rise and fall was something to behold. In Providence, depending on who you knew, what you heard, everyone knew Buddy was corrupt from day one. My mother actually dated Buddy Cianci in her youth, and I remember my grandfather disliking him, and my cousins saying nothing but disparaging things about Buddy.

When I asked my mother about Buddy years ago, she remarked that he was a nice guy, but had ambitions that far exceeded his intelligence, and gauging how Buddy ended up in prison, isn't much of a shock to everyone. I think the juxtaposition of Buddy, is that, like others before him, could have never gotten elected, unless the mob made it so. Cianci, who died in 2016, reinvigorated Providence, but at the same time destroyed Providence. Cianci years before his death would admit, that while he took a vicious terse when prosecuting the mafia, admitted that he had to take that stance, but secretly he was doing things behind the scenes to help them. How much Raymond Patriarca appreciated that in the end, says a lot, as Cianci twice tried to put Ramond Patriarca behind the wall for life, and failed. Cianci went to extremes to attempt to turn the lights out on Patriarca, but it's funny how he forgot who put him in charge in Providence.

The true Mayor of Providence was Raymond L.S.(Loreda Salvatore) Patriarca. Patriarca ran his headquarters from the Coin-o-Matic on Atwells Avenue, on Federal Hill. Everyone knew Ray, and let me tell this for a certifiable fact, everyone loved him. The hill protected him, and he in turn took care of them. Providence was a much different place than it is today. Today Federal Hill is hispanic, and a lot of the mom and pop places like Anthony's Bus Stop are long gone. I was there a few years ago, and didn't recognize the hill. Granted Casserta's was still there, but it just wasn't the same. As a kid, my uncles would go to get the "hot suits," on the Hill. In fact, my grandfathers basement had more swag in it than Macy's. Those were the days. If I needed a suit, a tie, a dress shirt, I would go into my grandfathers basement, who lived just off Smith Street on Modena Avenue, and it was like a shopping mall. Anything you wanted was down there.


n 1974, Cianci had designs on running for Mayor. Keep in mind, prior to '74 he had gone after the mob non stop (Specifically Raymond Patriarca, Jerry Tillinghast, and Bobo Marapese). I can tell you, there were back room talks about killing Cianci. The problem was he was an outsider. Mainly politics were controlled by Irish democrats, and Buddy was a complete outsider. In 1972, Cianci was known as a brash prosecutor, and had tried to convict Raymond Patriarca in a murder accessory case, and failed to convict Patriarca. Cianci knew, he had to turn favors to get favors. Lawrence McGarry who was the democratic chairman was someone Cianci needed on his side, and McGarry and recently put it out on the streets he would not back incumbent mayor Joseph Doorley Jr. Not long after, a meeting took place, and Cianci met with McGarry, who desperately wanted Doorley pushed out, and Cianci promised he could make that happen. Cianci also realized he had to run as a law and justice platform. Soon after McGarry would back Cianci, and would push "Democrats For Cianci," all over Providence. As McGarry began to round up support for Cianci, McGarry knew the only way Cianci could win, was a little help from some friends. Those friends? The mafia.

Former Hitman and Patriarca associate Jerry Tillinghast, was someone very friendly with McGarry. McGarry in passing mentioned that the democrats were backing Cianci for a mayoral run. Tillinghast wasn't a fan. Cianci twice tried to bury Tillinghast. Tillinghast wasn't about to support someone who tried to put him in prison, and scoffed at the idea. It wasn't until Tillinghast mentioned it to Joe Badway(my cousin) who was Raymond's eyes and ears, driver, bodyguard and best friend, that the idea drew some curiosity, Badway, who owned Dean Auto Body Shop, and was known in circles as a tough, no nonsense guy, took the information to Ray. Not long after, my cousin Joe called Jerry Tillinghast, and explained to him, that they could make sure Cianci won, without hesitation, but they wanted some things in return. Tillinghast has said over the years he met with Cianci on his own behalf, and that is not accurate. He was sent by Joe Badway, to talk to Cianci directly. The agreement was that Cianci would back off prosecuting the mob, and that Cianci if elected would ensure that the prosecutors had a hard time making cases. What Tillinghast did later was ask a personal request that he and a friend get city no show jobs. Cianci agreed if the mob could swing votes, then he would oblige.

When the votes came in, Cianci was the winner with a 709 vote difference. Tillinghast would not get his city job, as when he went to see someone about it, he was not given the job, but others looked the other way when he became a union steward of Local 1033 which was a division of public works. Cianci would remark years later, that he lived two lives. During the day he was meeting with politicians, legal scholars, but at night he was meeting secretly with Joe Badway, and the mafia. Cianci, who would go on to become a savior to many in Providence, became what everyone said he was from day one, a gopher for the mob. His ties to corruption are well noted, look up Operation Plunder Dome. Under Cianci, everything became a racket. Want to be a cop? You better pay. You want to work in public works? You gotta pay. While Cianci reinvigorated many parts of Providence, he also was as corrupt as those he went after in his early days of being a prosecutor. Some years ago I was privy to a conversation, my grandfather was having with some older guys. The subject of Buddy came up, and my grandfather said the following:

On Buddy Cianci- "We owned that guy. He couldn't cough without permission. We did everything for him, we gave him this life, and he fucked it all up. He's a bum."
On Junior Patriarca-"Raymond had everything running smooth, then his son took over, he was nothing like his father, he destroyed everything. He had no business running a family, he couldn't run a deli if all he had to do was type in six numbers into a register."

Joe Badway, my cousin, would eventually be arrested and charged with crimes, and did a short stretch in prison, and then there would be the entire scandal with Judge Joe Bevilacqua, Joe Badway, the mob, and Buddy Cianci, which would lead to Cianci's downfall. While Providence may be the smallest state, it's still the most corrupt. It's been that way, and I don't think that will ever completely change. Cianci, for all that he could have been, or all that he was, in many ways he's still the people's Mayor. Only Cianci could do a 4 year stretch in prison and come out and run for Mayor again in Providence. He would lose. Cianci would serve as the mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984, then from 1991-2002, and passed away in 2016 due to colon cancer.

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