Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Loveby Wendy Ruderman, Barbara Laker
In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed, and T. J. English's Savage City comes Busted, the shocking true story of the biggest police corruption scandal in Philadelphia history, a tale of drugs, power, and abuse involving a rogue narcotics squad, a confidential informant, and two veteran journalists whose reporting drove a full-scale/b>/b>/b>… See more details below
In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed, and T. J. English's Savage City comes Busted, the shocking true story of the biggest police corruption scandal in Philadelphia history, a tale of drugs, power, and abuse involving a rogue narcotics squad, a confidential informant, and two veteran journalists whose reporting drove a full-scale FBI probe, rocked the City of Brotherly Love, and earned a Pulitzer Prize .
In 2003, Benny Martinez became a Confidential Informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's narcotics squad, helping arrest nearly 200 drug and gun dealers over seven years. But that success masked a dark and dangerous reality: the cops were as corrupt as the criminals they targeted.
In addition to fabricating busts, the squad systematically looted mom-and-pop stores, terrorizing hardworking immigrant owners. One squad member also sexually assaulted three women during raids. Frightened for his life, Martinez turned to Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker.
Busted chronicles how these two journalists—both middle-class working mothers—formed an unlikely bond with a convicted street dealer to uncover the secrets of ruthless kingpins and dirty cops. Professionals in an industry shrinking from severe financial cutbacks, Ruderman and Laker had few resources—besides their own grit and tenacity—to break a dangerous, complex story that would expose the rotten underbelly of a modern American city and earn them a Pulitzer Prize. A page-turning thriller based on superb reportage, illustrated with eight pages of photos, Busted is modern true crime at its finest.
This true crime book offers an impressive, crisply told account of the reporting of a police corruption scandal that yielded a Pulitzer Prize for Philadelphia Daily News reporters Ruderman and Laker. The authors present a conventional narrative of journalistic triumph, but contextualize their process of unraveling a web of corrupt cops in an elite narcotics unit with events of tremendous change and upheaval in Philadelphia, its police department, the local newspaper business, and in their personal lives. They weave a sympathetic portrait of a flawed drug informant protagonist and convey the excitement of unspooling shakedowns of convenience store owners by drug cops and ferreting out an officer accused of sexually assaulting women during drug raids. What keeps the book from becoming an overly familiar touting of the power of journalism to right serious wrongs is the authors’ awareness of the fragility of the whole enterprise. “The death knell of our industry seemed remote” when the authors garnered accolades, but one Pulitzer later, they have experienced job changes, a divorce, the bankruptcy of their employer—and none of the accused cops at the center of the scandal have faced charges. The book is a tough, lively lesson in how doing the right thing, the right way, may not be enough. Agent: Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary. (Mar.)
Students of American history recognize Philadelphia as the "City of Brotherly Love." Looking beyond the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, however, this modern metropolis has a side that certainly does not foster love: prostitution, gun violence, drug dealing and addiction, and police officers terrorizing its citizens. Here Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Ruderman and Laker of the Philadelphia Daily News gradually expose police brutality and corruption that had previously been overlooked. What began as an innocuous interview with a desperate addict-turned-informant quickly developed into a journalistic investigation of crooked narcotics police, documented by Ruderman and Laker in their "Tainted Justice" column. The authors demonstrate the fearless tenacity of dedicated journalists who risk their personal health and safety to uncover the truth. In the process, they reveal their mastery in telling a good story by balancing the raw, shady elements with humor, suspense, and references to family life. VERDICT Readers of true crime and students of sociology will especially enjoy this highly engaging read about the modern realities that plague many American cities.—Chad Clark, Lamar State Coll. Lib., Port Arthur, TX
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
A reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News, Wendy Ruderman has worked at several media outlets, including the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, the Trenton Times, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record.
Barbara Laker has worked for several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Times Herald, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She began working at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1993 and has since been a general assignment reporter, an assistant city editor, and an investigative reporter.
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Tenacious reporting led to a great story.