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

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.

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About 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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 2, 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.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 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

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • 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."
  • Washington Post "The chick, noir version of All the President's Men with a little Rocky... and a little almost anything with Rosalind Russell or Barbara Stanwyck."
  • 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."
  • 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, journalist and author of National Book Award-winner Paris Trout "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, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author "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."
  • Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down "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, author of Blood and Honor and The Last Gangster "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."
  • Michael Smerconish, columnist, MSNBC contributor, and host of The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM "Busted reads like a gritty crime novel, but it is a paean to journalistic professionalism."
  • Washington Times "A fast-paced, well-written true crime book."
  • 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."
  • 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"
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • Houston Chronicle, “10 Books Worth Reading in 2014” "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."
  • Philadelphia Magazine "Busted is a Philadelphia classic.... It's an easy, breezy read but that's not to say...
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Busted
A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love
Wendy Ruderman
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