Jerry Tillinghast grew up in South Providence, a rough part of town. After serving in the Vietnam War, he returned home and was arrested in connection with the murder of a local bookie. While awaiting trial in prison, he met mob boss Raymond Patriarca and joined the ranks of New England organized crime.
Later, Jerry gathered votes for Buddy Cianci in exchange for a city job. In 1976, he was acquitted of involvement in the Bonded Vault heist.