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Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love [NOOK Book]

Overview

Although Busted reads like a thriller, the breathtaking story it tells—of two journalists' quest to unmask corrupt police officers and a warped justice system, the reporting of which culminated in a Pulitzer Prize—is absolutely true. One afternoon in late 2008, a man walks into the offices of the local tabloid the Philadelphia Daily News and asks to speak with reporter Wendy Ruderman. An imminent casualty of the foundering print industry, the paper is on the brink of bankruptcy, and its anxious staff members are ...

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Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love

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Overview

Although Busted reads like a thriller, the breathtaking story it tells—of two journalists' quest to unmask corrupt police officers and a warped justice system, the reporting of which culminated in a Pulitzer Prize—is absolutely true. One afternoon in late 2008, a man walks into the offices of the local tabloid the Philadelphia Daily News and asks to speak with reporter Wendy Ruderman. An imminent casualty of the foundering print industry, the paper is on the brink of bankruptcy, and its anxious staff members are plagued with dwindling resources. But what Benny Martinez tells Wendy and her colleague Barbara Laker is too shocking to ignore; his career as a confidential informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's narcotics squad has drawn him into a horrifying web of corruption, and now he is afraid for his life.

The decision they make that day to believe Benny's saga will lead the two journalists to uncover a truth darker than they could have imagined. Busted is Ruderman and Laker's riveting account of their explosive investigation into the acts committed by rogue members of the narcotics squad. By dint of perseverance, ingenuity, and good old shoe-leather reporting, the women unravel a tapestry of lies almost six years in the making. Starting with a scheme to fabricate search warrants, the scandal soon encompasses the systematic, citywide looting of immigrant-owned businesses and allegations of brutal sexual assault.

The remarkable lengths Ruderman and Laker go to for the story—chasing down witnesses on the city's grimmest streets, sifting through archive boxes and hours of surveillance tape for crucial clues, and coaxing reluctant victims to come forward—put their determination to balance motherhood with the career they love to the ultimate test. But when they produce a devastating series of articles that blows the lid off the scandal—prompting civil lawsuits against the city and the reexamination of hundreds of convictions (although none of the officers have been charged or convicted of any crime)—they not only win the fight for justice; they also win a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, an unthinkable achievement for two city reporters at a beleaguered regional paper.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
04/01/2014
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
The New York Times Book Review - Charles Graeber
Equal parts serious journalism and sisterly sass, Busted is a personable and fast-reading ride along with two Philadelphia Daily News journalists as they chase a police corruption story down the rabbit hole, from reportage to Pulitzer Prize…This is a shoe-leather journalistic procedural set against the ticking clock of the failing newspaper industry.
Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
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.)
Michael Smerconish
Busted reads like a gritty crime novel, but it is a paean to journalistic professionalism.”
Booklist Online
“Prevailing against threats, intimidation, and the impending bankruptcy of their newspaper, [Ruderman and Laker]…tell a story of a city the tourists seldom see.”
Mark Bowden
Busted is a thoroughly engaging…trip into Philadelphia’s underworld, where cops prey on those they are pledged to protect…. Rich with character and incident, it’s a complete original, and a love letter to newspapers in their hour of dire need.”
George Anastasia
Busted is a taut, gritty story of drug dealers and corrupt cops written with passion, fury and what Philadelphians refer to as attitude (pronounced ‘atty-tood’). Ruderman and Laker have a lot of that, which is why they’re two of the best reporters in the country.”
Lisa Scottoline
“I admire Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, who are not only Pulitzer-Prize winning journalists, but fearless and fascinating women. Busted reads like a turbo-charged thriller, all the more compelling because it’s true. Pick up a copy, and you won’t be able to put it down.”
Pete Dexter
“A story that not only pounds at the door to come inside, but stands as a much-needed reminder that newspapers are and always have been and, as far as I know, always will be the bedrock of the art of journalism.”
Edna Buchanan
Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the scorching, devastating, and action-packed story of two journalists’ journey into the dark heart of a major city.…Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker are true heroes…. I love this book.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Prevailing against threats, intimidation, and the impending bankruptcy of their newspaper, Ruderman and Laker delivered a powerful series on police corruption, ultimately earning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. This is a gritty, true-life thriller about the intersection of policing, drug dealing, and news reporting”
USA Today
“A riveting tale of two brave reporters who love what they do and are totally committed….engaging, down to earth and at times, very funny.”
Publishers Weekly
“This true crime book offers an impressive, crisply told account of the reporting of a police corruption scandal that yielded a Pulitzer Prize…. The book is a tough, lively lesson in how doing the right thing, the right way, may not be enough.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Ruderman and Laker provide a welcome addition to the shelves of books about the mechanics and logistics of journalistic exposés . . . . [t]he narrative offers an insightful view of high-risk, high-reward investigative journalism.”
Philadelphia Weekly
“[A] gritty, honest, often surprisingly funny book.”
Newsweek
Busted is a very good book about very bad people, a great read about great injustice.…Busted is proof that journalism still lives, still matters.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
Busted is a welcome addition to the literature of journalism procedurals.”
New York Post
“Fans of The Front Page and All the President’s Men will be transfixed by this astounding tale of police corruption.”
Daily News
“Part study in investigative journalism, it also delivers a commentary on the state of print journalism today, and justice.”
Washington Post
“The new book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the chick, noir version of All the President’s Men.”
Washington Times
“A fast-paced, well-written true crime book.”
New York Times Book Review
“Equal parts serious journalism and sisterly sass, Busted is a personable and fast-reading ride…a shoe-leather journalistic procedural set against the ticking clock of the failing newspaper industry.”
Philadelphia Magazine
Busted is a Philadelphia classic…. It’s an easy, breezy read but that’s not to say it’s insubstantial.”
Houston Chronicle
“As investigative reporters for the Philadelphia Daily News, this writing duo won a Pulitzer Prize for their series on police corruption in Philadelphia. The story starts with Benny Martinez, a drug informant…. It ends by exposing the dirty dealings of an elite narcotics squad.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-05
Two newspaper reporters explain how they broke open police corruption in Philadelphia. Philadelphia Daily News reporters Ruderman and Laker deliver an All the President's Men–type book, examining their investigation of police corruption, which began in late 2008 when a law enforcement source suggested that a career criminal named Benny Martinez contact the reporters about illegal activity he had conducted with narcotics officer Jeffrey Cujdik. Martinez would identify alleged drug dealers and users to Cujdik, whose narcotics squad would raid their homes, keeping some of the proceeds for themselves. In addition, one of Cujdik's colleagues would sometimes assault women at the site of the raids. Eventually, the reporters learned of a related thread of misconduct in which his narcotics squad would burst in on retail storeowners, disabling security cameras while stealing cash and merchandise under the guise of the merchants selling drug-related supplies. Since the stories fearlessly named names, some Philadelphia cops were demoted amid citizen outrage. Ruderman and Laker disclose, however, that none of the police officers ever lost their jobs or faced criminal charges. The newspaper's investigations eventually garnered the authors the Pulitzer Prize for reporting. All the while, the newspaper was so strapped for cash that it was in and out of bankruptcy proceedings, with its very existence in doubt. In addition to chronicling their journalistic investigations, Ruderman and Laker tell their personal stories, disclosing their workaholic habits, quirky personalities and deep friendship in a breezy writing style that occasionally borders on maudlin. Despite the stylistic distractions, however, the narrative offers an insightful view of high-risk, high-reward investigative journalism, made more poignant by recent severe cutbacks in newsrooms around the country. All the President's Men it's not, but Ruderman and Laker provide a welcome addition to the shelves of books about the mechanics and logistics of journalistic exposés.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062085467
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 21,652
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Wendy Ruderman has a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007, she worked at several media outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, the Trenton Times, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record.


Barbara Laker graduated from the University of Missouri Journalism School and worked for several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She began working at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1993 and has been a general assignment reporter, an assistant city editor, and an investigative reporter.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Tenacious reporting led to a great story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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