The Providence Journal tells the life story of LIUNA organizer Harold L. Tillinghast Jr. who was charged last month with labor racketeering:
He was 15 years old, a student at Cranston High School East who “never stole a candy bar,” when his father, the notorious mob figure Harold L. Tillinghast Sr., was convicted of murder one. The father and his brother, mob hit man Gerald M. “Gerry” Tillinghast, had pumped nine rounds into a loan shark, George Basmajian, in a stolen car near T.F. Green Airport. His uncle was a feared enforcer for the Patriarca crime family in the 1960s and 1970s. In one famous case in which he was acquitted, Gerald Tillinghast was accused of participating in the Bonded Vault heist of 1975, when mobsters cleaned out safe-deposit boxes of an estimated $3 million in cash, gold and jewelry reputed to have been stashed by other wise guys.
According to Harold Jr. his father attempted to dissuade him from the mob life, and the son embarked upon a career in politics:
Later, when his father went back to prison for his role in a mob gambling ring — a ring that Uncle Gerry ran from his prison cell in New Hampshire –– the son had embarked on a career in government. He worked on the campaigns of James R. Langevin, first for Rhode Island secretary of state and later for Congress, and found work on Langevin’s staff.
However, in 2001 Harold Jr. left politics to hook up with the Laborers’ International Union of North America in Rhode Island against the advice of his member father:
He put aside the fact that, over the years, the Laborers’ had been honeycombed with wise guys, and the target of a massive federal racketeering probe. Or that his boss was the nephew of reputed New England mob boss Louis “Baby Shacks” Manocchio and had done time for manslaughter.
Harold Jr.'s boss was Nicholas P. Manocchio:
Tillinghast said that he first met Manocchio years ago, when Manocchio ran a baseball-card shop on Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston and Tillinghast was a collector. Years later, while working for Langevin, Tillinghast said that he bumped into Manocchio at the State House and then wound up talking to him when he was interested in a job with the Laborers’. Tillinghast knew that Manocchio had been in prison for manslaughter, convicted in the beating death of a former rock band stage manager outside a North Providence nightclub in 1980. The crime occurred when Manocchio, a graduate student in microbiology, was home on vacation. Tillinghast said that he also knew that Manocchio’s uncle was Baby Shacks Manocchio. But he didn’t hold that against him.
Tillinghast left LIUNA after the FBI raided his office in 2005, and joined the construction firm of his friend Gerald Diodati who also was charged last month in the kickback scheme for his alleged role as the funnel through which the illegal payments would pass from mobbed-up contractors to LIUNA officials in exchange for project awards.
In February 2007 Diodati hired Tillinghast’s uncle Gerry to work as a security guard for his construction firm upon the urging of Harold Jr. just five days after the hitman's release from prison for the murder of Basmajian. Both Harold Jr. and Uncle Gerry since have left their employment with Diodati, and now Tillinghast asks: "How do I put myself back together after this, even if I’m found innocent? It’s a black mark forever."