CHAPTER ONE

Divine Providence

Buddy Cianci announces his candidacy for mayor at a 1974 news conference. In his late twenties, Cianci became an assistant prosecutor in the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office. There, Cianci was assigned to a murder case that launched his political career. Courtesy of the Providence Journal.

Buddy Cianci announces his candidacy for mayor at a 1974 news conference. In his late twenties, Cianci became an assistant prosecutor in the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office. There, Cianci was assigned to a murder case that launched his political career. Courtesy of the Providence Journal.

Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island, a city where organized crime corrupted every aspect of public life. In the first episode of Crimetown, a young prosecutor named Buddy Cianci takes on a gruesome murder case. As the investigation heats up, Buddy goes head to head with the most notorious mob boss in the country—and launches a career that will change Providence forever.

More on this episode from the Providence Journal →

Listen to CHAPTER ONE


The Coin-O-Matic, located in Federal Hill, Providence's Italian neighborhood, was the headquarters of New England organized crime. Courtesy of the Providence Journal.

The Coin-O-Matic, located in Federal Hill, Providence's Italian neighborhood, was the headquarters of New England organized crime. Courtesy of the Providence Journal.

This just happens to be organized crime, and people don’t get fired. They get fired at.
— Albert Berarducci, longtime Providence resident
The interior of the Coin-O-Matic, circa the 1960s. Raymond Patriarca ran the New England mob from this vending machine company, which was filled with dusty cigarette machines and arcade games. Courtesy of the Providence City Archives.

The interior of the Coin-O-Matic, circa the 1960s. Raymond Patriarca ran the New England mob from this vending machine company, which was filled with dusty cigarette machines and arcade games. Courtesy of the Providence City Archives.


Police mugshots of Rudolph Marfeo, left, and Anthony Melei, right. The two were said to be close friends. Providence Journal file photo.

Police mugshots of Rudolph Marfeo, left, and Anthony Melei, right. The two were said to be close friends. Providence Journal file photo.

On April 20, 1968, Rudolph Marfeo was gunned down near the entrance of Pannone’s Meat Market. He ran gambling activities on Federal Hill, the center of organized crime in Providence. According to police, he was killed because he refused to kick up a portion of the profits to Raymond Patriarca. Providence Journal file photo.

On April 20, 1968, Rudolph Marfeo was gunned down near the entrance of Pannone’s Meat Market. He ran gambling activities on Federal Hill, the center of organized crime in Providence. According to police, he was killed because he refused to kick up a portion of the profits to Raymond Patriarca. Providence Journal file photo.


News footage from Raymond Patriarca's 1972 acquittal on accessory to murder charges in the Marfeo-Melei case. Courtesy of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Accession number 1977.124.404.

He says, you know, I think I want to run for mayor. Either that or I’m gonna buy a boat.
— Vinny Vespia, friend of Buddy Cianci
Buddy Cianci, left, with Vinny Vespia in the early 1970s. Vinny was at dinner with Buddy when he made the decision to run for mayor of Providence. Courtesy of Sheila McKenna. 

Buddy Cianci, left, with Vinny Vespia in the early 1970s. Vinny was at dinner with Buddy when he made the decision to run for mayor of Providence. Courtesy of Sheila McKenna. 


FROM THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL ARCHIVES

April 21, 1968

Click to read "Two From Underworld Shot Dead in Store."

June 3, 1972

Click to read "Jury Weighs Patriarca's Fate After Priest Recants."

June 5, 1972

Click to read "Patriarca Acquitted; He Weeps At Verdict."


Episode Credits

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. It is produced by Drew Nelles. Additional production by Austin Mitchell. The show is edited by Alex Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney. Fact-checking by Mick Rouse. This episode was mixed by Matthew Boll. Sound design and scoring also by Matthew Boll. Original music by John Kusiak and Kenny Kusiak, P. Andrew Willis, Jonathan Ivans, Edwin, and Bienart. Kate Parkinson-Morgan is the digital editor and Ale Lariu is the design director. Archival research by Brennan Rees.

research by Brennan Rees.This season of Crimetown is dedicated to the memory of Zachary Malinowski. Thanks to the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island Historical Society, Brad Turchetta and the Cianci Estate, Paul Campbell, Damiano Marchetti, Jesse Rudoy, Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Dr. Marian Stuart, Dan Barry, Mike Stanton, Wayne Miller, Mary Murphy and everyone who shared their stories with us. Providence is a special place. We are honored to tell a part of its story. 


Ale LariuEpisode One