Mob Meeting at Apalachin: The Big Barbeque

By Thom L. Jones for Gangsters Inc.

November 1957

The question, to my mind, has to be why?

Why was this meeting held?

There are a number of other interesting questions as well of course, and none of them have ever been answered satisfactorily.

Who actually arranged it?

Who first thought of the idea?

Who in fact brought the whole thing together?

Long before the days of rapid technological communications, how did the nuts and bolts get assembled?

Gangsters and hoodlums even in the 1950s were aware of the dangers of telephone taps. Communicating with dozens of men, all over the continental United States couldn’t have been that easy. Arranging itineraries and accommodation for mob bosses from Los Angeles and Cleveland and Boston and New York and Tampa and Denver and wherever else, must have been a logistical nightmare for the party planner, whoever he was.

Logic infers that the Mafia’s ruling body, the Commission, made up of the five New families, plus Buffalo, Chicago, perhaps Philadelphia and Detroit, gathered somewhere and laid down the ground rules and agreed in principle on the date and the venue.

Imagine this guy sitting somewhere, maybe New York, or maybe Kingston, Pennsylvania, at a desk, covered in pieces of paper and perhaps maps and airline schedules and mountains of other bumf trying desperately to co-ordinate everything. No cell phone with built in address book. No lap top to search out timetables and book airline tickets, no Excel to draw up schedules. How on earth did they get everyone together from all over the country, at the same time?

Some sources believe the meeting had originally been scheduled to take place in Chicago, but a number of the dons, thought this was unwise as the Windy City was feeling the heat that particular November because of a highly publicized IRS investigation into the finances of Chicago boss Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo.

Stefano Magaddino, the Buffalo boss, suggested the Apalachin location, owned by Joe Barbara, who Magaddino may have used as a middleman in shipping heroin along the old bootlegger's route from Canada to New York City.

The FBN claimed that all the arrangements were made by Joseph Mario Barbara, Jr. the elder son of Joe Barbara, who hosted the meet, although he would have been only twenty-one at the time, making it highly unlikely he would have been given that kind of responsibility. He would have been after all, organizing stuff on behalf of some heavy underworld characters. More likely, Rusell Bufalino, Joe Barbara’s right hand man, who would one day assume control of the crime family, lead at this time by Barbara, could have been the organiser, or one of them.

These men were seriously bad criminals, each running their own little empire, controlling graft and corruption and drug trafficking and political manipulation, and sometimes when the moon was full, killing people. Evil stuff needs lot’s of attention and input. Not that easy to just drop everything and swan off across hundreds, maybe thousands of miles to some farmhouse in the boondocks of New York state. It would have needed precise planning for them all to arrive at around the same time, certainly within a twenty-four hour time frame.

Whatever it was they were going to discuss, there’s no doubt it hit the spot, so to speak, in garnering their attention. Because many heads of mob families across the country, and their personal assistants, chauffeurs, and bodyguards, made the trek to this rural back block which lay closer to Canada than New York City.

It was possibly the biggest convention in mob history. Certainly the biggest that law enforcement knew about. Bigger than Cleveland. Bigger than Atlantic City and Havana, Cuba. It was in fact the Mr. Big of hoodlum jamborees. No doubt on that.

And it was not the first time Barbara’s home had been used for a mob meeting. The year before Apalachin, the mob commission had met here to officially bring Philadelphia's boss Angelo Bruno onto its board.

However, this one would turn out to be probably the most significant major embarrassment in terms of public relations that the Mafia ever suffered in its long history. In social clubs, and bars and restaurants across the nation, the foot soldiers of organized crime in America at this time, no doubt sat around and talked about the debacle at Apalachin, as the last days of fall drifted into the start of winter 1957, delighted at the sheer unbridled stupidity of the chiefs turning out to be no better than the Indians.

Joe Valachi, the mob informant from the Genovese family, remembered.
‘I’ll tell you the reaction of all us soldiers,’ he told author Peter Maas, ‘ when we heard about the raid. If soldiers got arrested in a meet like that, you can imagine what the bosses would have done. There they are, running through the woods like rabbits, throwing away money so they won’t be caught with a lot of cash, and some of them throwing away guns. So who are they kidding when they say we got to respect them?’

It would defy belief that these top hoodlums, dressed in their flash city suits, and shiny winkle-picker shoes, wearing snappy fedoras and driving in state in their huge, garish automobiles, would not attract attention in a small, rural township, two hundred miles north-west of New York City, tucked away in the rolling, green hills of Tioga County, where the shops closed on Sundays, girls still went to school in dresses, and all the boys had crew-cuts.

A criminal organization of national scope, composed of thousands, which had hidden itself from public view for almost thirty years, out of the blue, became headline news across America, and did it overnight. Now, the country realized it had a mob in its midst, a mob of men with strange sounding names, all ending in vowels, who looked to be as big a threat to the country as the ‘commies’ that the FBI had been chasing down since the end of World War Two.

Estes Kefauver had gotten close to the subject matter with his senate investigation into organized crime which was officially known as the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, formed in 1950. The first hearing of its type to be broadcast on television, it had introduced middle America to something called the Mafia. The year long hearings created something of a blip on the mob’s radar, but nothing really developed from them, except the resignation of a number of corrupt politicians. It generated splash back that may have contributed to the death of Willie Moretti, the New Jersey tough guy, and helped along the deportation of New York hoodlum Joe Adonis, but it hardly caused much of a ripple in the Italian-American underworld.

Apalachin however, became head line news because the meeting was discovered and the participants, at least probably 60% of them, were arrested and processed by the local law. All of sudden, there were names and faces being published, and details of criminals who were apparently big time operators in most of the major cities across America. This was not some individual gangster or coruscate bookie, being interviewed on television, not even, as in the case of Frank Costello, mob boss from New York, a pair of performing hands. No, here were many, many big-time criminals, all together in one spot at one time, for some earnestly important reason, and it had to be bad. The face of Mob America had been exposed for the first time since its institution, back in 1931.

Organized crime in America would never quite be the same again.

The man who kick-started the whole thing was Edgar Croswell, a detective sergeant in the New York State Police. He had been closely watching this man called Joe Barbara, who lived in Apalachin, for almost thirteen years. Croswell worked as an investigator for the Criminal Investigation Bureau, attached to the Vestal sub station, near Binghamton. These three places lie on State Highway 17, approximately twenty miles apart, with the village of Apalachin the furthest west.

Croswell (right) had first encountered Barbara in 1944, a meeting that had been more than acrimonious, and had made a point of carrying out extensive checks on Barbara’s background.

He had been born in 1905 in Castellammarese del Golfo, in western Sicily and immigrated to America in 1921, along with an older brother called Carlo, settling in with relatives in Endicott, a small town to the east of Binghampton, and getting a job in one of the numerous shoe factories scattered across the region.

On the corner of Washington Avenue and North Street in Endicott was a corner cigar shop. Above that shop, according to some sources, Joe began his criminal career by setting up a house of prostitution.

He became a naturalized citizen in 1927, and by the age of 31, had developed into a formidable figure in the criminal fraternity of Wilkes-Barr-Scranton-Pittson district, south of Binghampton, in northern Pennsylvania. At this time he was living at Old Forge.

He was a suspect in the 1931 murder of Calomare Calogaro, who was shot dead in Wyoming, Pennsylvania. A few months later, police found a Thompson sub machine gun in Joe’s car, which had apparently been used in a recent gangland shooting in New York City. In 1933, he was again arrested and investigated in a double underworld killing. One of the victims, before he died, actually named Barbara as the man who had shot him. In 1933, he was yet again a suspect, this time in the brutal, torture murder of Albert Wichner, a Scranton bootlegger.

Miraculously, Joe Barbara walked away from all of these murders. Every case against him collapsed for a number of reasons. He was most definitely an untouchable.

No doubt feeling under a lot of surveillance, and getting pressured by the local police, Joe Barbara left Pennsylvania and moved back into New York State, first to Endicott and then buying a house on McFall Road, in Apalachin, a picturesque, ‘sleepy hollow’ type of small town America. There was only about two hundred and eighty people living in the township and less than a thousand in the catchments’ area at this point.

By the time Barbara (right) had fully developed the hilltop property (parts of which dated back to 1867,) he had bought, towards the end of the 1940s, it had eleven rooms and five auxiliary buildings, and fifty-three acres of land surrounding it.

Sometime in 1940, Barbara had taken control of a small group of mobsters in Wilkes-Barre, who had operated under the command of Santo Volpe since the early 1930s and then briefly, John Sciandra, until he was murdered. There were maybe as many as fifty in this group which became known as the Bufalino Family in the early 1960’s. Joe also established a legitimate business running a soft drink bottling plant, and somehow, through some kind of political pressure at Albany, received a district beer distribution license and was also awarded a franchise by the Canada Dry Company to bottle and distribute their products.

This is how things stood, when somebody wrote a dud cheque.

On November 13th 1957, Croswell’s office received a telephone call from the Parkway Motel at 900 Vestal Pkwy East, in Vestal. Someone had presented a bad cheque. Along with his partner, Trooper Vincent Vasisko, the sergeant stopped by at the motel late in the afternoon. While they were talking to the owner’s wife, Helen Schroeder, Croswell noticed Joe Barbara Junior, a cocky and pompous 21 year old, pull up outside in his Cadillac. The sergeant and the trooper stepped into a small lounge off the office area, and listened while Barbara made a reservation for three double rooms, for two nights. He mentioned that his father was hosting a convention for people involved in the soft drinks industry. However, he couldn’t tell the manager the names of the guests or when they were arriving, simply asking for the keys to the rooms on payment of a deposit. Croswell smelt the proverbial rat. Something was not just kosher about this, is how I imagine he thought.

So, he and the trooper went off to check Barbara’s bottling plant to see if anything suspicious was going on there. That was a dead end. Then, they drove down Main Street, taking a left on McFall Road, heading south about half a mile until they reached the Barbara property. Here, they sighted four automobiles.

One they knew belonged to Patsy Turrigiano, a man they had been watching as part of their surveillance on Barbara. Also born in Catellammarese in Sicily, the sixty-one year old resident of Endicott, had a police record dating back to 1928 for boot-legging, larceny and assault, to name a few violations. He ran a grocery store on Watson’s Boulevard in Endicott, and was a close associate of Joe Barbara. The other three cars carried New Jersey, Ohio and New York plates. Croswell noted these and the two officers went back to their office in Vestal to start checking registrations details on these cars. At some stage later in the day, Sergeant Croswell then drove back to the Parkway Motel and saw the car with the Ohio plates parked there. The two men from the car-John DeMarco and Giovanni Scalise -were already in their room. Later that night on another swing-by, they spotted a Lincoln that they subsequently identified as belonging to one James La Duca.

For Joe Barbara, the next day, Thursday November 14th 1957, would prove to be a nightmare, at the hands of his nemesis. For Sergeant Edgar Croswell, the game was in play!

Back at his office, Sergeant Croswell, working on an assumption that Barbara may have been involved in some kind of bootlegging operation, rang two of his contacts, treasury agents, Arthur Rustin and Kenneth Brown, based in Binghampton, a thirty minute drive away, explained his situation, and they agreed to come across and help. Croswell also rang his boss, Inspector Robert Denman, who was based in Sidney, about fourty miles north-east of Binghampton, and up dated him on the events that had taken place. Denman confirmed that the surveillance of Barbara’s property should continue the following day.

Late the next morning, Croswell, Vasisko and the two treasury agents drove up to McFall Road. It was overcast with a light rain forecast. A strong smell of meat cooking over an open flame drifted up from the extended barbeque area at the back of the property. The dozens of men standing around the barbecue were preparing to enjoy lunch. A week before, their host had ordered $432 worth of fancy steaks, veal chops, and hams from Armour & Company in Binghamton. The 220-pound shipment had to be sent in specially from Chicago. Mel Blossom, the property caretaker, tall and saturnine, was keeping busy trundling wheelbarrows of prime-cuts from the kitchen down to the barbeque pit.

The area in front of Joe Barbara’s garage was filled to capacity with parked autos, and an adjoining field was also being used as an overflow area. Dozens of vehicles were scattered around the property-Cadillacs, Imperials, Lincolns and Chryslers. As the officers wandered around jotting down plate numbers, a group of men appeared walking around the garage, talking in animated conversation. They stopped, looking stunned at the sight of the police officers, then started yelling, retreating back towards the house (below).

Croswell and his men dropped back down McCall Road, and at exactly 12.50 p.m. according to his later testimony, he ordered a road-block set up. The sergeant then used his car radio to call his superior officer, asking for back-up. Soon, some twenty state police officers were peeling out of barracks, at Binghampton, Whitney Point, Waverly and Horseheads, in their Plymouth sedans cruisers, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

As Croswell and his men stood watching the house back up the hill, they made out a stream of men fleeing the property, rushing across fields and into an adjoining wood and west towards the Apalachin Creek. The sergeant was under pressure. He had to make some kind of tactical decision about what was going on.

At this point, a small truck came down the hill. It was driven by Bartolo Guccia, a fish merchant from Endicott, who had apparently been making a delivery at Barbara’s house. He stopped at the road block, reversed his van, and then drove back up the hill. Shortly after he returnd and the police waived him through. Guccia has always been regarded as merely a spectator in the great scheme of things at Apalachin, but in fact he was no doubt part and parcel of the Barbara crime family. A sixty-six year old produce merchant, born in Sicily, in that same small seaside town as Joe, he was well- known to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and had an arrest record that dated back to 1916 for just about everything, including murder. Bart the fishmonger was more than just a smelly delivery man. He was part of team Barbara, and it seemed to be his lucky day. The fish man slipped through the net, so to speak. His freedom was short- lived however, as a patrol car stopped him down the road, and he was then detained.

The next car that came rumbling down the hill stopped as Sergeant Croswell waved it down. There were three passengers in the back. The driver identified himself as Russel Bufalino and his front seat passenger as Vito Genovese. Croswell checked their driving licenses. The men sitting in the back of the Chrysler Imperial were Joseph Ida, Gerardo Catena and Dominic Oliveto. They claimed they had simply dropped by to visit their friend Joe, who had been feeling ill. As Croswell was talking to these men, the first of the state troopers were arriving, pulling their cars onto the side of the road.

Sergeant Croswell made his decision. Organizing the troopers intro groups, he sent some to round up the men charging about the countryside and the rest were used to marshal the ever growing number of cars driving down the hill, into groups and to escort them to Vestal and the state trooper’s building at 217 Vestal Parkway East.

Just a few hundred yards up the road was the motel where the investigation had begun the previous day.

By late afternoon, just past five o’clock, the 1500 square feet, two story building, was packed with the men who had been transferred down from Barbara’s house or rounded up and herded across the fields and out of the woods. There were almost 60 of them, standing around in groups or sitting on chairs and benches, most of them smoking up a fug, and talking to each other in whispered tones. One by one, they were ushered into Sergeant Croswell’s office, where they emptied their pockets and gave out their names and addresses, as he checked their identity against their driving licenses. Between them, in cash, rolled into tight wads, the group had over $300,000.

Simon Scozzari, a fifty-seven year old Sicilian, from Palermo, who owned and operated the Venetian Club in Los Angeles, had only a modest $602 in bills, but was also carrying a cashier’s cheque for $8445. He was in fact the under boss of the Los Angeles mafia family, working with Frank DeSimone, a lawyer and hoodlum who ran the group there, and who was also detained at the Vestal Station.

Almost every man interviewed, subsequently turned out to have a criminal record, of some sort. One of them however-Charles Chiri- had an unblemished background. The sixty-nine year old Sicilian lived in Palisades, New Jersey. He was close to many top ranking hoods, including Tony Accardo of Chicago and some really seriously front line mobsters from New York, like Tommy Luchese, Tony Bender, Joe Biondo, Charles Dongarra and Sal Caneba, a major Sicilian drug trafficker who had been deported from America in 1954. Chiri was, according to informants, attending the meeting as a representative of deported top boss, Joe Adonis, who was at this time living in Milan.

Keeping ‘Doto’ in the loop so to speak.

There was an unusual level of blood relatives present at Apalachin-four pairs of brothers, two sets of cousins and a mixture of uncles, nephews and in-laws.
Joe Profaci and Joe Magliocco were second cousins. John Montana’s nephew, Charles was married to one of Stefano Magaddino’s daughters. Another daughter was the wife of James La Duca. The son of Joe Zerilli of Detroit was married to a daughter of Joe Profaci.

Clanship through birthplace was represented by Joe Barbara, Joe Bonanno, Emanuel Zicari, Frank Garofalo, John Bonventre, Ignaius Cannone, the Magaddino family members and Bartolo Guccia, who were all immigrants from Castellammarese del Golfo.

Although all of these mobsters would have egg on their faces for a long time over the debacle in upstate New York, the man who really felt the heat was John Montana.

A business man from Buffalo, influential in state politics, a city council member, recently nominated ‘business man of the year’ by the Erie Club, and operator of the biggest taxi-cab business in the city, he just happened to also be a capo in the Buffalo Mafia family run by Stefano Magaddino. One of the state troopers had found him lost and wandering in the woods adjoining the Barbara property.

His excuse for being in the neighbourhood was typical of the stories Croswell would have to sit through that afternoon and evening. Montana claimed he was driving from Buffalo to New York- on business of course- when the brakes on his Cadillac started to play up. He thought he would stop at his friend Joe’s house, and get one of his mechanics to look them over. He was sitting having a quiet cup of tea with Joe’s wife, Josephine Vivona, when all the commotion started. He decided to just go for a quite walk in the woods until everything calmed down, but somehow, got himself lost!

Some of the other fancy stories came from men like Vincent Rao of Manhattan, who said he thought he had been invited to a buffet luncheon. Carmine Lombardozzi, a Brooklyn based hoodlum, confirmed he was going hunting. Asked why he had no gun or hunting gear, he said he was planning to buy it there! Jimmy La Duca, a capo in the Magaddino organization, was apprehended in the woods, where he said he was chasing a deer. Joe Filardo of Kansas City said he was a businessman, but refused to say what kind of business. Most everyone said they were paying a sick call on Mr. Barbara and had all coincidentally arrived at the same time. The most original excuse came from James Osticco. He said he had come to the house ‘to fix a pump.’

You could imagine these guys turning on their host:

“Another fine mess you’ve got me into Ollie!”

New York City Police Lieut. Thomas Mooney gave out an interesting explanation about why the meeting had been called, or at least one of the reasons. The meeting, he said, was a drum head court-martial for Lombardozzi, who had committed unexplained indiscretions in his business/personal life. Some sources claimed this involved skimming from jukebox machines, monies due to his mob family. Other sources say it revolved around Lombardozzi raping a young woman. He had a long criminal record dating back to 1929 which included alongside homicide and obstruction of justice, a charge of rape, so the precedent was there. Lombardozzi, before the cops arrived, was found guilty, and fined $10,000 so the claim goes. He was lucky. The alternative was two behind the ear in some dark corner of his world.

Montana never lived down the disgrace of being outed at Apalachin, and all his years of secrecy and his effort at embedding himself into the social world of Buffalo went down the tube. Although a power in Buffalo city and New York state politics, and a respected businessman, his Mafia connection ruined him and he died a broken man a few years later.

The count wasn’t finished until early the next morning, an hour after the last of those who had run for the woods was brought in from the rain. “One by one we rounded them up,” Croswell said: “bedraggled, soaking wet, and tired.” He added, “There are no sidewalks in the woods.”

All the police cars had to do was patrol the roads," said Vasisko. "They had to come out sooner or later. You see a guy in a silk suit and a white fedora, you say, 'He doesn't belong in the woods!'"

Barbara’s house was never searched; any of the mobsters who did not flee could have waited out the raid inside. Probably many of them did. Tommy Luchese was never found, or Carmine Galante or Stefano Magaddino or Sam Giancana. Surely these men and others were at this conclave. About the reaction of those caught, Croswell said: “These guys are never indignant.” All of them answered questions politely and left the station quietly. No fuss or bother.

By the time Croswell processed the last of the men, the station was being swamped by calls from reporters. The following day headlines filled newspapers across America. Here at last, was proof of what Kefauver had warned about. Here, was the “Great Congress” of the Mafia, the nerve centre of crime in America. It had finally been flushed into the open.

“Royal Clambake for Underworld Cooled by Police” and “Police Ponder NY Mob Meeting; All Claim They Were Visiting Sick Friend.” were just some of the glaring headlines that greeted Americans for the next nine days.

The police were immediately excoriated for releasing the biggest catch of mobsters in history. Croswell’s critics disregarded the fact that the men, none of whom was a wanted fugitive, were peacefully assembled on private property. The police action was itself of questionable legality since there was no legitimate cause for suspicion about any of these men. They were not breaking any law by gathering at Joe's place.

However, all of a sudden as 1957 was a drawing to a close, organized crime was suddenly news. Each of the Apalachin visitors became the centre of media publicity and possible official action on his home turf. Attendance at the meeting was taken as proof of involvement in a malignant conspiracy. The public demanded to know why this “second government,” now no longer invisible, was allowed to exist. The authorities were anxious for answers.

The Apalachin meet triggered off numerous investigation and in the months that followed, public hearings were conducted by the State Joint Legislative Committee, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labour or Management Field, headed by Senator John L. McClellan and the New York State Commission of Investigation.

The New York legislature assigned a watchdog committee to look into the matter.
On December 12th 1957, the New York State government opened a Joint Legislative Committee on Government Operations, serving subpoenas on the thirty four Apalachin delegates who came within their jurisdiction. Sergeant Croswell attended and gave evidence as did John T. Cusack, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He read to the committee a 15000 word report on the operations of the Mafia which had the assembly spellbound. He recalled the mob meetings that the bureau were aware of- Cleveland 1928, Florida in 1952 and 1953, Chicago in 1954, Binghampton the previous year, and now this one at Apalachin.

A number of men sworn to give testimony attended the hearings and all took the 5th.

John Ormento, Luchese family drug king. Joe Profaci mob boss of his own family in Brooklyn. Antonio Magaddino, brother of the Buffalo Mafia boss. Guarnieri, Falcone, Carlisi, d'Agostino, Evola, Castellano, Miranda, Valenti, Bufalino, Riccobono, Rao, the endless list of stern faces, impassive faces, the men all shaking their heads and saying nothing.

Following the days of testimony and evidence giving, the Watchdog Committee issued a report which stated:

'The Apalachin meeting of November 14. 1957, is strong evidence that there exists in this country an active association or organization of criminals whose operations are nationwide and international...........'

Grand juries probed for wrongdoing. Paul Castellano, the chauffeur, brother-in-law, and eventual successor to Carlo Gambino, served seven months for his silence before a New York City panel. Liquor and immigration authorities began to examine participants.

Joe Barbara, plagued by health problems, never testified about the meeting, but he lost his pistol permit and his beer license and soon after sold his property in May 1959 to a builder and developer and moved back to Endicott where it all started for him all those years before. He died of a heart attack one month later, in June, 1959. Only four of the hordes of his “concerned visitors” from two years earlier found time to make it to his funeral.

At the federal level, Apalachin came under the magnifying glass of a Senate committee chaired by John McClellan of Arkansas. The Senate Rackets Committee, as it was known had been digging up dirt on mob infiltration of labour unions for nine months before Apalachin. Twenty two of the delegates to Apalachin had union or labour-management ties. The hearings were driven by the group’s chief counsel, Robert Kennedy. Vito Genovese appeared before the panel wearing amber-shaded glasses and his usual smirk, and took the Fifth Amendment more than 150 times. McClellan’s investigation proved to be an early important step toward cleaning up mob-dominated unions.

In early December, 1959, in Manhattan's U.S. District Court, a jury found 20 of Barbara's racketeer-guests guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice by lying to grand juries about their reasons for coming to Apalachin. These men faced maximum sentences of five years and/or $10,000 fines. In what U.S. Attorney General William P. Rogers hailed as a "landmark" verdict, the Government in an ingeniously based prosecution won its biggest courtroom victory against organized crime since the conviction of Al Capone. For without proving that the defendants had assembled for a "crime convention," Special U.S. Prosecutor Milton Wessel convinced the jury of the mobsters' "togetherness in crime, partnership in lying."

Milton Wessel may well have sown the seeds, laid down originally in 1934 legislation, which thirteen years later, harvested the RICO bill, used so successfully since 1985 to decimate mob families.

The key to the Government's successful long-shot prosecution was Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman's ruling that the police, in halting and questioning the defendants, had not encroached upon the constitutional guarantee against illegal search and seizure. Judge Kaufman, held that the police had "reasonable grounds" for believing that "a crime might have been committed"; that "the circumstances were such that an immediate stoppage and investigation was rendered absolutely necessary." Those questioned, said the court, were merely getting an opportunity to convince police that no crime had been committed. They did so and were released.

In December 1960, the U.S. Court of Appeals kicked the Government's case out. The court, reversing the convictions of the 20 hoods, ordered the charges dismissed. The main point of the unanimous decision by the three judges stated:

“Since the Government had not tried to prove that the meeting, in and of itself, violated any state or federal law, how could it prove that the defendants had conspired to lie about their presence there? The Government's ‘bootstrap‘ handling of the case, wrote Chief Judge J. Edward Lumbard, was wholly unwarranted. "Bad as many of these alleged conspirators may be, their conviction for a crime which the Government could not prove . . . and on evidence which a jury could not properly assess, cannot be permitted to stand."

J. Edgar Hoover embarrassed that Apalachin made a mockery of his long-held position that no Mafia existed in America as an organized business, set up a “Top Hoodlum Program,” shortly after the mob fest, using the bureau to consolidate information on leading gangsters across the country.

By the 1960s, many sources were trying to explain the tremendous blunder made by Hoover in denying the existence of a nationwide crime confederation, and it is still debated to this day, without resolution. There are various theories.

These include Hoover's hatred of Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger, who really did believe in the Mafia threat; Hoover's fear that organized crime investigations could be messy affairs that provoked backlashes from crooked politicians; and his awareness that his own social circle featured prominent businessmen with possible mob links. There is no definitive proof for any of these.

Curt Gentry in his book on J. Edgar Hoover, offered another possibility: that Hoover was gay and being blackmailed by the Mafia.

In 1958, the Director also ordered the preparation of two Mafia monographs, one on the Mafia-U.S.A. the other on Mafia-Sicily. It was perhaps his first attempt to try to come to terms with a criminal organization that had been in existence longer than his own beloved bureau. These can be viewed to-day at the FBI web site:

Toward the end of 1962, Director Hoover asked that all information on the Italian criminal organization in the United States be summarized in a report, to be compiled by the New York field office. Responsibility was given to a New York special agent. All field offices were to submit their information to New York. The report was issued January 4, 1963, under the title of "The Criminal Commission Etal." It described the positions, hierarchy and lines of authority within La Cosa Nostra families.

Hoover came to the party late, but once there, set in place the not inconsiderable resources of the bureau to harass the mob for the next fifty years.

So, just who organized this mob conference in the first place and for why?

According to Joe Valachi, the Mafia informant, who testified in 1963 before yet another committee, the whole thing was Vito Genovese’s idea. Valachi claimed that Genovese wanted the meeting to be held in Chicago, but was talked out of that by Stefano Magaddino, and when this was settled, Joe Barbara’s son made all the arrangements. Hardly likely as I’ve already speculated.

First up on the agenda was confirmation of Vito (left) as the boss of his family, which if true, would confirm that at this point in time, he wasn’t. Then, a resolving of the attempted hit on Frank Costello, who probably was the family boss, earlier in the year, and confirmation that the hit on Albert Anastasia, (boss of another mob family in New York,) the previous month had been justified. Another important matter was the sale of membership into Cosa Nostra that had apparently taken place within Anastasia’s family, and the stabilization of mob families by having ‘the books’ closed and no new hopefuls inducted.

The securing of Anastasia’s family was of prime importance since men in the Anastasia Family still loyal to the Anastasia regime, such as the powerful capi Aniello Dellacroce and Armand Rava were possibly gearing up to go to war against Vito Genovese and his allies. It hadn't been just the Genovese-Luchese-Gambino alliance that wanted to see Anastasia dead. Some of the most powerful Cosa Nostra Bosses throughout the country, such as Tampa Family boss Santo Trafficante, Jr., Northeastern Family Underboss Rosario "Russell" Bufalino, New Orleans Family Boss Carlos "Little Man" Marcello and even Jewish Boss and mafia financier, Meyer Lansky, worried about Anastasia's attempts to muscle in on their Havana casino operations before the Commission perhaps sanctioned his assassination.

Gambling policy needed to be thrashed out, in particular the opportunities to be mined in places like Cuba. The New York Garment Industry and control of garment centre trucking may have been other important topics on the Apalachin agenda. The outcome of these discussions would certainly have a direct and in some cases, an indirect effect on the business interests of some of the other Bosses around the country, mainly those involved in the garment manufacturing business, trucking, labour and unions, all of which were major cash cows for the crime families involved.

It's also possible that on the agenda was what, if anything, to do about Bobby Kennedy. He was the lead counsel in the McClellan hearings that had begun its investigations in February. Joe Kennedy was a business associate of the mob, with a history dating back to Prohibition. It may have seemed to the Mafia that it was dishonourable for him or his family to bite the hand that had helped to feed them. The mob knew that Kennedy was planning to launch Jack, his eldest son, as a political star in the making, and the chances were above-average that he would gain the Presidency. Perhaps Joe had already approached the Mafia for help in electing his son. Years later, Sam Giancana told Judith Campbell, one of Jack Kennedy's numerous girlfriends, 'Listen, honey, if it weren't for me, your boyfriend wouldn't even be in the White House.' Would it better suit the Mafia to give Bobby Kennedy a free rein for the time being? Jack's election, and a possible mob tie-in to the Presidency might help in smoothing relations between the Mafia and Joe Kennedy.

Last but not least, and probably the most important item, was what do about the U.S. Congress draconian Narcotics Control Act passed in 1956, and already bringing grief to members of the Mafia who could not keep their sticky fingers out of the drug trade. Would the mob outlaw, on pain of death, narcotic trafficking?

It’s therefore quite possible that the state of the American Mafia was to be covered on an extensive scale at this meeting, leading perhaps to maybe even deciding who would now be heading any new changes, controlling and enforcing its national rules and policies. A realignment of power. Perhaps the re-creating of the mythical boss of bosses position, which had been discontinued in 1931. Improbable, but always possible.

Joe Valachi of course was simply an Indian in the tribe of the Genovese. It’s highly unlikely that he had firsthand knowledge of Don Vito’s intention. Whatever he knew, would have filtered down through the system, from Tony Bender, or Vince Mauro, or one of the other men more senior than he was. For the last forty-seven years, writers have repeated his assertions as though they are gospel, but of course they are not.

This is what Valachi claimed, but there is no independent proof that confirms what he said. He made mistakes and got things wrong in his testimony and recollections, so who is to say this information is accurate?

However, the turmoil that had been generated in the Manhattan underworld during the year was surely worthy of serious consideration as items on any mob agenda.

The shooting of Frank Scalice, Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia were part of a perfect, well almost perfect, mob trifecta that fascinated New Yorkers throughout 1957.

The first up on May 2nd was the attack on Frank Costello, who at this time was possibly still the head of the crime family formerly run by Charley Luciano, now living in exile in Naples, Italy. Vito Genovese had returned to New York in 1946 from his own self-imposed exile in Italy and for the next ten years he and Costello uneasily co-inhabited within the family. Genovese had taken over the rains when Luciano had gone to prison in 1936, but then a year later had fled New York when under investigation for the murder of a minor gangland figure called Ferdinand Boccia.

Costello had successfully managed the large, 450 strong and diverse family, for twenty years when Genovese finally made his play. Frank was a man who used political connections rather than brute force to achieve his objectives. For many years, Costello held the allegiance of at least four of the six family crews that made up the critical mass of the criminal clan, and so seemed to hold the position of power.
Frank Costello was popular with the white collar crews in the family, those involved in the garment centre, garbage hauling, construction, labour and union rackets, along with legitimate businesses.

Vito Genovese worked away at the edges, nibbling inwards bit by bit at the men Costello trusted. Men like Gerry Catena and Tommy Eboli, Augie Pisano and Vinnie Mauro. Setting seeds of distrust, laying Frank open to criticism about how much time he spent on his own private businesses at the expense of the family’s interests. His lock into Frank Erickson the top level gambler; his slot machine operation in Louisiana controlled by his wife, Bobbie’s brother, Dudley Geigerman; his part ownership of the famous Manhattan nightclub, The Copacabana; his share of Irving Haim’s Alliance liquor distribution, and the many real estate investments he had- the thirteen story office block at 79 Wall Street, another at 87 Wall Street and another at 144 Water Street. So many pies, so few fingers to employ.

Genovese kept whittling away. In October 1951, Willie Moretti, a New Jersey based capo in the family and a strong ally of Frank was gunned down in a café in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. The circle getting smaller. For the next three years Frank was under enormous pressure as the Federal government built a case against him for tax evasion, and as his time and efforts became more and more focused on this, the nibbling kept increasing.

Frank went on trial in April of 1954, and was found guilty. For two years, he kept a battery of lawyers fighting against the execution of his sentence, but finally, in May 1956, he surrendered himself to the U.S. Marshalls in New York, and was sent to the Atlanta Penitentiary. However, after only eleven months, his lawyers found a loophole, and Frank was released, pending an appeal. Two months after his release, he went for dinner.

It’s a fact Frank Costello (left) was shot in the head on the evening of May 2nd 1957, as he returned to his apartment building on Central Park West, opposite Central Park. He survived with a mere head wound, a graze across the scalp. We think we know who shot him-Vincent Gigante- although there has been speculation it may have been someone else. There has also been considerable discussion as to whether the shooter was simply trying to scare Frank off, and the fact that he was hit at all, was a mere fluke of bad judgement on the part of the gunman and Costello himself. But I've always wondered who actually set up the hit on Frank? Vito Genovese most certainly ordered it, but who was the executor?

At approximately five that evening, Frank had a meeting with Tony Bender, the right hand man of Vito Genovese, at Chandler's Restaurant, on E49 Street. The place was owned by Joe 'Joe the Wop' Cataldo, a family member, so privacy was guaranteed. A third man made up the meeting-Vincent Mauro, aka Vinnie Morrow- a protégé of Bender's. In 1957 he was 41 years old, a seasoned veteran, and apparent hit man for the mob; he'd grown up in Greenwich Village and was close to many men well know to dabble in drugs-Big John Ormento of the Luchese Family, Tony Mirra of the Bonanno's, Sally Santoro of the Gambino's, Patsy 'Patty Mush' Moccio and Joe Valachi of the Genovese Family (who in fact sponsored Mauro) to name just a few. A man with a fearsome temper, Mauro had once beaten up the famous singer Billy Daniels at a club called “The Golden Key” in Manhattan. Mauro was also a lot closer to Bender than he was to Frank.

What Costello didn't know that night, according to Valachi's testimony, is that exactly one week earlier, Vito Genovese had called his own meeting with Bender and Mauro, to tell them that Frank had “turned,” become an informer for the law, and had to be hit. Joe Valachi claimed Mauro told him that he was to carry out the shooting, but Valachi turned it down. Hard to believe, I know, and this is probably an example of the way Valachi twisted things to suit himself.

Valachi stated, he suggested Gigante as a possible shooter, (and we know how history proved that to be a bad decision,) and that he along with Tommy Eboli and “Dom the Sailor” DeQuatro made up the hit-team. But who dropped the dime to let these guys know when Frank left the restaurant to go back to the Majestic?

Mauro apparently rang the L'Aiglon restaurant on East 55th Street where Costello was dining with friends and his wife, at least three times during the evening, apologizing for not turning up, (he'd been invited,) the last time to double check that Frank had left and was on his way home. In fact, the dinner party left the restaurant together and then went on to another place, a nightclub down the street, and again Mauro found them there by telephone, again checking when Frank was to leave.

At about eleven, Frank Costello strolled into the lobby of his apartment building, the shooter shot and missed, and the rest is history. Jack “Panels” Santoli a soldier in one of the family’s New Jersey crews run by Richie Boiardi, has also been suggested as the man who took a pot shot at Frank that night.

The odds have to be that Vincent Mauro sat and drunk with Frank at five, and almost got him killed six hours later, which of course would be par for the course in mob hits, but I've only ever seen one source for the information on Mauro making those calls, and that was in Leonard Katz's book “Uncle Frank.”

Whoever was behind it, the shooting of Frank Costello was a pivotal moment in Mafia history, as Vito Genovese attempted to take over the leadership of the “West Side Mob.”

Number two on the hit list of 1957, New York Mob Style, was Francisco Scalice (right) who lived in the Bronx. It existed as his domain. Nothing went down here of any consequence unless he sanctioned it. At least as far as it concerned the Anastasia crime family. He held a job as Vice President in a plastering company called Mario and De Bono, and had a lock on the construction industries so tight, even bags of cement couldn't be moved unless he okayed it. Frank who was also called “Don Cheech” had once been the boss of the crime family, in which he was now just a capo, but also sat on the family‘s administration as the under boss. He answered to Albert Anastasia who had taken over the family after murdering Vincenzo Mangano, the sitting head, in 1951. Albert called Frank “Whacky” not an inappropriate name in view of what was to happen.

Frank may also have consummated the very first intercontinental drug operation in Cosa Nostra history, when in September, 1945, he made a deal with Tony Accardo, boss of the Chicago syndicate.

Every Monday, Frank lunched with his younger brother Giacomo, who ran Jack’s Candy Store on Crescent Avenue near Arthur. The FBN claimed he was involved in Frank’s drug trafficking business and used his store as a front for gambling and other criminal enterprises. Jack was fifty-five and married to Josephine LaPorte. The brothers would go to Anne and Tony’s on the corner of 187th Street and stuff themselves with mozzarella and roast peppers and baked clams. After lunch, Frank often wandered down the street, talking to people, stopping to chat to women pushing prams, and old men sitting in the sun, filling in time before they died. The kids playing Ringoleavo or stick-ball or flies-are-up; perhaps just standing in line at the Good Humour Man’s van to buy an ice cream or popsicles. The start of the week always a hectic time. Mothers out shopping, stocking up on groceries, suppliers delivering fresh produce; the side walks crowded and busy with pedestrian traffic. One of Frank’s favourite stops always had to be at Enrico Mazzarano’s fruit and vegetable shop, further down the avenue from the place where he ate with his brother.

On Monday, June 17th at one-thirty, Frank came strolling down the street.

He had not long returned from a visit to Italy. He and his wife, Joan had taken a cruise ship there. Bit of business. Bit of pleasure. The business bit involved Charley Luciano, now living in exile in Naples. He and Frank were in the drug business, along with a lot of other traffickers on both sides of the Atlantic. Business was booming.

Wearing light tan slacks and a yellow sports-shirt, he looked like an older man, maybe someone’s grandfather, just out for an afternoon stroll. Stinking hot, the sun’s rays shimmering across the street, the passing traffic kicking up dust as a dark, old model sedan pulled up and double-parked outside the fruit shop.

Scalice walked in and started talking to the owner. He stood laughing, joshing the little fat, genial storekeeper; then he walked across to a stand and set about choosing a selection of fruit. As he started to pay for it, 90 cents for some peaches and a lettuce, two young killers walked into the store. Dressed identically, in dark slacks and white, short-sleeved shirts, both wearing sunglasses. About the same height and build, wearing the same kind of clothes, designed to confuse witnesses. The two walked up to Frank, who stopped and stared at them in surprise.

Each of the men pulled out a .38 calibre revolver and started to shoot, firing five times. Two of the bullets ripping into Frank’s throat, one blowing a hole in his cheek, one shot going wide and the last one banging into his shoulder, spinning him around and tossing him in a heap on the floor. The two men stepped around the body, walked past the astonished shop owner, and climbed into the black car, which pulled away, turning down 187th Street, disappearing into the afternoon traffic. All accomplished in seconds.

People ran around in circles shouting and yelling at each other. In a few minutes, a police patrol car came screaming down the street, followed shortly afterwards by an ambulance, and then other police cars, and soon, the block filled up, crowded with cops and detectives. The body of Frank lay inside the shop, sprawled out on its back, leaking blood, flanked by crates of oranges on one side and heads of spinach on the other.

Frank was clipped for one of two reasons. The previous autumn he’d been an organizer in a significant drug shipment that was supposed to arrive in New York aboard a cruise liner called the SS Excambion. Things went badly wrong and the shipment was confiscated while the ship was still in European waters. There was a lot of money, other people’s money, involved and the theory was that Frank’s head rolled as a result. The more probable reason for the killing also involved money, but with a more Machiavellian twist to it.

Underworld rumour had it that Frank had been selling membership into Cosa Nostra at $50k a pop, an unpardonable sin to the men of honour. This kind of transgression called for the maximum punishment. Albert Anastasia would have had to approve the killing of his assistant. It’s also highly probable he organized it himself, as he was almost certainly taking a cut from this membership fee charge, and it would have looked bad for him if that ever came out.

Number three on the hit parade was undoubtedly the most dramatic, some think the most theatrical and spectacular mob killing in the history of New York‘s underworld. It went down on Friday, October 25th.

Seven o’clock in the morning, Anthony Coppola drives from his home in Fair Law, in the 1957 Oldsmobile, to number 75 Bluff Road, in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He was here, to pick up his boss, Albert Anastasia who was the boss of what is now known as the Gambino Crime Family, and take him across the Hudson into Manhattan. Albert had people to see and an appointment with his hairdresser. The house sat back behind a ten-foot iron fence. Manicured gardens rolled up to the huge, Spanish style mansion with tiled, concrete roofs. There were surveillance cameras to watch the street, and Doberman’s to eat anyone stupid enough to try and break in. Fifty-five year old Anastasia had lived a life full of violence and death. He knew prevention to be the best form of defence.

When they arrived in the city, Coppola, Anastasia’s driver and bodyguard, parked the auto in the Corvan Garage on West Fifty-Fourth Street., and then went off somewhere.

At approximately ten-fifteen, Albert (right) strolled into the Park-Sheraton Hotel, standing on the corner of Seventh and Fifty-sixth Street. He walked down the stairs into the barber shop, situated in the basement, greeting the manager, and briefly spoke to two men, who were subsequently identified as Peter Lo Cascio, aka Johnny Russo, and Andy Alberti, a known narcotic dealer, and then moved to his favourite hairdresser, settling into the soft, leather barber-chair, and nodding a greeting to Jean Wineberger, the manicurist.

Outside on the crowded sidewalk, two men pushed their way into the hotel. They were both dressed in nondescript suits, each man wearing a fedora and dark sunglasses, with a scarf draped around the neck. One was about 40, 5’ 8”, 180 lb. He wore a grey suit and hat. The other man was shorter about 5’5,” 150lbs, brown suit and hat. Each man wore aviator-type sunglasses with yellow metal rims. The short one sported a thin, black pencil moustache. They had dark, olive-coloured skins. Each man wore a black glove on his right hand.

The men walked into the lobby, moving through the people who were congregated there, and under the sign that read: “Barber Shop” down into the long, narrow room. As they walked, they pulled up the scarves to cover the lower parts of their faces, and pulled out hand guns. Arthur Grasso, the owner, was standing by the cash register. He looked up when he saw the two men, his eyes widening in shock and fear. A barber was working on a client in chair number one, and a man called Daniel Oberman was sitting across from him, reading a newspaper, a customer, waiting his turn. The lady manicurist, Wineberger, was at the far end of the room with a young man who was probably the shoeshine boy. A radio was playing softly, it sounded like Benny Goodman and his orchestra.

The two men walked up to chair four, pushing the barber Arbissi away, and down the room. The men stood behind the chair. Albert was lying back, relaxed, his eyes closed, his hands folded over his stomach, his right leg crossed over, totally relaxed. One of the shooters stood slightly to the right of the chair, and the other stood directly behind it, his back to the glass doors that led out on 55th Street.

They started to fire simultaneously, double action, banging off round after round into the reclining figure. At the first impact, Albert leapt out of the chair, his foot crashing down on the pedestal with such force, it snapped off. His natural instinct was to go for his attackers. Instead he went forward into the images reflecting in the mirrors on the wall above the chair, sweeping bottles off the shelving. Bullets ricocheted off the steel beading on the back of the chair and the headrest, striking him in the left hand, and slapping off the back of his neck. Another burrowed into his right hip. Bullets were going wild, as one killer managed to pin one into Anastasia’s back on the left-hand side, which spun Albert, tumbling him to the floor. The man leaned over, placing the Colt against the left side of the dying man’s head, and fired, the slug, burning into the brain, bouncing the skull off the linoleum floor. The last thing Albert saw was the face of the man who killed him.

The shorter man turned and tried the door out into the street. It was locked. The other man nodded back up into the lobby, and they ran up the few steps, and then walked across and out into the street. On the way, one of the shooters dropped his revolver in a corner of the hotel’s lobby. Out on the street, they walked up to the intersection of 56th Street, and parted, one crossing over and heading for the BMT station, where he would dump his revolver, the other heading north towards Central Park.

Just like in the other shootings, earlier in the year, no one was ever arrested and convicted for the killing of Albert Anastasia. Over the years, gunmen from Ralph Manfrici, Joe Giorelli, Joey Gallo, Tony Cazzeroni, Frank Illiano, ‘Jiggs’ Forlano, Carmine Persico, the titular head of the Colombo family, and two imported hit men from Sicily, have emerged as potential suspects. Joe Valachi, the mob informant, fingered Anthony Zangogila, aka ‘Tee Zee’ as one of the gunmen.

A thirty-two year old bartender, with close links into the Luchese crime family, and a close association with ‘Big John’ Ormento, the ambitious and formidable drug czar of the family, Zangoglia, known more as a narcotics trafficker than a hit man, seemed an odd choice as assassin of the month.

Jerry Capeci, the New York based mob specialist, claimed he’d figured out who the killers were, and named them in one of his online columns as Stephen Armone and Stephen "Steve Coogan" Grammauta. Whoever they were, they did the job.

This eruption of violence in the New York underworld must have created concern among the rest of the mob leaders, especially in the tri-state area. It may well have been the catalyst that brought Apalachin into play. Important figures in the Mafia being shot down in public places, is not a good image for a secret society to promulgate. A meeting of heads of states may have seemed a good way to resolve the turmoil in New York and sort out the other problems as well. With Anastasia dead, the thorny problem of “sold” memberships in fact resolved itself. It was almost impossible now, to prove that this had actually happened, with both of the key players implicated now dead.

And so it came to pass.

For Vito Genovese who was referred to within the mob not by name, but by the cognomen ‘The Right Man,‘ bad would only turn to worse in the next twelve months.

On July 9th 1958, he was indicted along with sixteen co-defendants for masterminding an international narcotics syndicate smuggling heroin and cocaine into the United States from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

On April 17th 1959, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and fined $20,000.

He was sent to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, and died of a hear attack in the Federal Medical Centre for Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, on February 14th 1969.

The conclave at Apalachin was a watershed in the relationship between the Mafia and the rest of American society. The Italian-American gangsters who had been operating for so many years under the radar, suddenly became major targets for law enforcement and the media.

People in big cities like New York who had wondered why their garbage removal, and their laundry, and their fish and meat and fruit and vegetables, and the clothes they bought, and their dining out was so expensive, came to understand, in the years that followed 1957, just why this was so. It was a thing called a “Mob Tax.“ And everybody, from the governor down, had to pay it.

The Mafia, was an entity without a communal name. No one who belonged to the Mafia ever referred to it as such: it was usually Cosa Nostra, or "Our Thing." Regional names also differed. In Chicago the local organization was the outfit, sometimes the syndicate, in Buffalo the arm. In Cleveland it was the combination (because Jews and Greeks were allowed in). In Kansas City, it was the combination or the syndicate. In New England, the office. In Philadelphia, the big boys or the Italian club.

It exercised a subtle form of social control over the lives of every citizen it came into contact with. Not just the unlawful ones. It was an equal opportunity society when it came to fleecing the public and the underworld sub culture it fed off. Like a parasite, it lived in concord with the organ it fed from, dependent on its host as a source of sustenance, sucking out the money, the holy grail of the mob, from every available source.

Apalachin was to law enforcement what stem cells research is to modern medicine- a kind of a biological exclamation point- drawing attention to something that had always been there, but continually lost in translation. For the next fifty years, city and state police forces across the country, along with federal enforcement agencies would devote more and more of their time and resources to nullifying the disease that had
so insidiously invaded the fabric of American life.

The Mob would never quite be the same again.

Edgar D. Croswell died of emphysema on Saturday 17 November, 1990 at his home in Johnson City, N.Y. He was 77 years old.

All of the attendees, bar one, are now dead and just memories. The only one maybe still left is Joe Barbara Junior.

Joe Junior and his mother and his brother, moved to Detroit after the father died in June 1959.

In 1962 Junior was inducted into the Detroit Family, sponsored by one of his father’s former colleagues. He married, Josephine, daughter of Peter Vitale, a well-known Detroit mob member, who served as the under boss to Joe Zerilli.

Along with his father-in-law Vitale, and his brother Paul, formed 'Tri-State County Sanitation' waste collection business.

He was convicted of extortion in 1970 and received a seven year sentence. He was nailed again in 1979 on income tax fraud. For this, he did five years.

Apparently, “left” the mob and retired into the quiet life.

If still alive, he would be about 72.

This is a list of those who attended the meeting, and who were subsequently interviewed in the state police building in Vestal the evening of November 14th and early morning November 15th 1957. This list is based on the one produced by the New York State Executive Department, Office of the Commission of Investigation Apalachin Report. Some of the men listed have their legitimate means of earnings tabulated.
Two of these men, identified by * attended both the Apalachin meeting and the mob meeting held on December 5th 1928, at Cleveland's Hotel Statler. It was hosted by Joe Porrello and his lieutenant and bodyguard Sam Tilocco, and was the first known major meeting of the Mafia in America. Many major leaders from Chicago, New York and Florida were invited. The meeting was raided before it actually began.

Just like Apalachin!

1. Dominick Alaimo - member of the Barbara family. Interests included chemicals, coal companies, the garment industry and union labour. Mob enforcer, into gambling and racketeering along with his brother Sam. Arrest record dating to 1932 included robbery, federal labour laws and liquor laws
2. Joseph Barbara - boss of his own family. Presently, called the Bufalino family, but it's just about extinct. Long police record dating back to the 1930s for prostitution, grand larceny, liquor laws, suspect in a number of murders.
3. Joeseph Barbara Junior-no record except contempt of court regarding the meeting. On death of his father, moved to Detroit.
4. Joseph Bonanno - boss of his own New York family, deposed in 1964. Involved in funeral homes, the garment industry, olive oil and cheese, linen and laundries. Record dating back to 1930 included grand larceny, possession of gun, transportation of machine guns and obstruction of justice.
5. John Bonventre -uncle of Bonanno, former underboss to Bonanno. Retired to Italy prior to Apalachin and probably couldn't resist meeting old friends. Interests included real estate and the garment industry. Arrest record back to 1943 included kidnapping and burglary, endangering health of a child.
6. Russell Bufalino - underboss to Barbara. Became boss when Barbara died A suspect in the Hoffa disappearance in 1975. Operated Penn Drape and Curtain Co. and had interests in coal companies, jewellery and furs and labour unions. Arrests dating back to 1927 including vagrancy, petty larceny, criminally receiving stolen property.
7. Ignatius Cannone - member of the Barbara family. Owned bars and The Plaza Lounge, Endwell, N.Y. Recording going back to 1946 including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.
8. Roy Carlisi - member of the Magaddino family from Buffalo. Involved in produce and markets, real estate and labour unions. Arrested on federal liquor laws, gambling and contempt of court.
9. Paul Castellano - capo in the Gambino family. Took over as boss when Gambino died in 1976. Killed by John Gotti in 1985. Made money from produce and markets, waterfront scams and union labour. Owned Emcee Meat Markets, and president of Allied Retail Butchers Association. Record dating back to 1934 for robbery with violence, civil contempt.
10. Gerardo Catena - under boss to Vito Genovese. Later helped run the family when Genovese went off to prison. Alleged to be the most wealthy mobster ever. Renowned as ‘having more money than God.’ Came from coin machines, entertainment, oil and gas leases, real estate, trucking, union labour. Arrests included robbery, hijacking, suspicion of murder.
11. Charles Chiri - member of the Genovese family. Interests in Automotive Conveying Co. Partner in I&C Dress Co. New York. No criminal record
12. Joseph Civello - boss of Dallas family. Money came from import-export, olive oil and cheese, produce and markets. Convicted on Federal Narcotic Law
13. James Colletti - boss of the Colorado family. Partner of Joe Bonanno in the cheese business. Also, ran bars and restaurants, real estate and import-export.
Arrest record dating back to 1925, including murder.
14. Dominick D'Agostino - member of the Magaddino family. At one time managed the Hilltop Restaurant at Niagara Falls. Long criminal record, mainly involving drugs
15. John De Marco - capo or perhaps under boss in the Cleveland family then run by John Scalish. Long criminal record-robbery, extortion, blackmail, bombing and murder.
16. Frank De Simmone - boss of the Los Angeles family, he was a lawyer.
17. Natale Evola - capo in the Bonanno family, later became boss of the family about 1970. Owned Belmont Garment Delivery Co and Amity Delivery Co. Record back to 1930. Coercion, drug conviction, unlawful possession of weapon, conspiracy to obstruct.
18. Joseph Falcone - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. Money came from coin machines, produce and markets and real estate.
19. Salvatore Falcone - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. Revenue from horses and tracks, real estate and labour unions. Arrest for violation of Federal Liquor Laws.
20. Carlo Gambino - had just ascended to the head of the family after
Albert Anastasia was murdered in October 1957. Earned from the garment industry, waste removal, produce and markets, union labour. Record back to 1930 included larceny, federal liquor laws and violation of I&NS laws.
21. Michael James Genovese - probably under boss of the Pittsburgh family. Owned and operated Archie’s Car Wash. Record back to 1936 included assault, carrying concealed weapon and robbery.
22. Vito Genovese - had just recently ascended to the head of the family
after previous boss Frank Costello had been wounded in a murder attempt and then retired. Money came from horses and tracks, import-export, paper and wastepaper, real estate, steel strapping, union labour and waterfront. Extensive arrest record dating back to 1917, including burglary, concealed weapons, auto homicide and murder.
23. Anthony Guarnieri - capo in the Barbara family. Business interests included Tr-City Dresses and Oswego Textile Co. Record for gambling, felonious assault.
24. Bartolo Guccia, - probable member of the Barbara family or at the least an
associate of the family. Operated a fish business in Endicott, N.Y. Arrest record back to 1916 including possession of a revolver, breaking and entering, bootlegging and murder.
25. Joseph Ida - boss of Philly. Salesman for DeAngelis Buick Agency, New Brunswick. Minor criminal record. He retired shortly after the mess of Apalachin.
26. James La Duca - capo in the Magaddino family, related by marriage to Magaddino. Earnings from hotels, entertainment, soft drink distribution, taxicabs and labour unions. One arrest for conspiracy to obstruct justice.
27. Samuel Laguttuta - member of the Magaddino family. Arrest record back to 1933 for arson, concealed weapon possession and murder. Painting contractor.
28. Louis Larasso - capo in the New Jersey family then lead by Phil Amari. Became under boss to Nick Delmore when he took over for Amari in 1957. Operated Sinclair Service Station, Elizabeth, N.J. Other money came from construction and labour unions. One charge on criminal record for obstruction of justice. He was killed in the 1990s.
29. Carmine Lombardozzi - capo in the Gambino family. Earned from coin machines, construction and real estate, stocks and securities, trucking, waterfront and labour unions. Owned Monte Marine Co. Brooklyn and Carbal Trading Co. Criminal record dating back to 1929-homicide, rape, unlawful entry and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
30. Antonio Magaddino - capo in the Magaddino family and brother of boss Stefano Magaddino. Arrest record in Sicily from 1916 to 1929 including murder, robbery and rape. Vice President of Magaddino Memorial Chapel, Niagra Falls.
31. * Joseph Magliocco - under boss of the Joseph Profaci family which is now the Colombo family. Money came from beverage distribution, import-export, laundries, olive oil and cheese and labour unions. Record back to 1928 included carrying concealed weapon..
32. Frank Majuri - under boss in the New Jersey family of Phil Amari. Demoted down to capo when Amari retired later in 1957 and was replaced by Nick Delmore. Promoted back up later to under boss in the regime of Sam DeCavalcante in the 60s after Delmore died. Money came from construction and union labour. Record back to 1935, bookmaking, conspiracy to obstruct justice, parole violation.
33. Rosario Mancuso - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. Earned from prize fighting, construction, restaurants and bars, labour unions. President Nuform Concrete Co. Utica. Criminal record dating to 1920 for burglary, robbery, assault with intent to kill.
34. Patsy Mancuso. Brother of Rosario
35. Gabriel Mannarino - capo in the Barbara family. Recording back to 1933 for gambling, liquor laws, obstruction of justice. Operated Ken Iron and Steel Company in New Kensington. Interests in night clubs in Miami Beach and New Kensington.
36. Michael Miranda - capo in the Genovese family. Earned from auto agencies, coin machines, horses and tracks, jewellery and furs and union labour. Record dating back to 1915 for murder, disorderly conduct, vagrancy and conspiring to obstruct justice.
37. Patsy Monachino - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. No criminal record held in the U.S.A. Interest in Super Beverage Co. Auburn, N.Y.
38. Sam Monachino- member of Barbara or Magaddino family. No criminal record in U.S.A. Commercial interests same as brother above.
39. John Montana - under boss in the Magaddino family, demoted after Apalachin.
Owned Van Dyke Taxi Co and Frontier Liquor Co. in Buffalo. No criminal record prior to Apalachin.
40. Dominick Olivetto – a member of the New Jersey family. Business interests included Forrest Products Co. Runnemede, N.J. Vogue Manufacturing Co. Vineland, N.J. and Quality Liquor Co. Camden, N.J. Record back to 1937 included larceny, gambling and bootlegging.
41. John Ormento - capo in the Luchese family. Not too long after Apalachin, he got yet another narcotics conviction and spent the rest of his life in prison. Legitimate business included chemicals, garment industry, trucking and labour unions. Arrest record back to 1937-drugs.
42. James Osticco - capo in the Barbara family. Would take over leadership in 1980. Real name Vincenzo Sticco. Transportation manager Wm. Medico Industries, Pittson. Owner Ann Lee Frocks & Connie Frocks, Pittson. Pa. Record dating back to 1931 for prohibition violations.
43. * Joseph Profaci - long time boss of his own family until his death in 1962. Family is now called the Colombo family. Very wealthy. Money came from olive oil imports, construction, import-export, and union labour. Record dating back to 1928 for murder, tax evasion. Also, had a criminal record in Sicily.
44. Vincent Rao - consigliere in the Luchese family. Earned from construction, garment industry, real estate, bars and labour unions. Owned RAO Realty. Rao Parking Lot E116th St. N.Y. Vin-Sons Paints, the Bronx. Record back to 1919 for grand larceny, homicide, possession of firearm.
45. Armand Rava - member of the Gambino family. Was murdered not too long after Apalachin because he was an ally of the slain Albert Anastasia. Owned New Corners Restaurant, Brooklyn. Record going back to 1929 for extortion, policy, boot-legging, vagrancy and narcotics.
46. Joseph Riccobono - consigliere in the Gambino family. Generated wealth from the garment industry and jewellery and furs. Owned Christine Dresses and Toni-Bell Dresses, Brooklyn. Record back to 1930 for concealed weapon, conspiracy and extortion.
47. Anthony Riela - capo in the Bonanno family, active into the 1980s. Owned Airport and Newmarker Motels in Newark. Record from 1955 conspiracy, permitting prostitution and obstruction of justice. Suspect in 2 murders in Rockford, Illinois in 1944.
48. Joseph Rosato - member of the Luchese family. Money came from S&R trucking co. Record dating back to 1928 included homicide, disorderly conduct. Married to Thomas Luchese’s sister, Rosalie, and apparently representing him at the meeting.
49. Louis Santos (Santos Trafficante) - boss of the Tampa family. Interests in Columbia Restaurant, Nebraska, bars in Tampa and gambling interests in San Souci Hotel, Havana, Cuba during Batista regime. Criminal record dating back to 1946 included briber, bolita running, and conspiracy.
50. Giovanni Scalish - boss of the Cleveland family. Wealth came from coin machines and labour unions. Owned Buck-eye Cigarette Vending Co. Also, interest in nightclubs in Las Vegas and Newport Kentucky. Record back to 1930 for burglary, robbery and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
51. Angelo Sciandra - capo in the Barbara family. Earned from coal companies, entertainment, garment industry and trucking. Co-owned Ann-Lee Frocks in Pittson and various apparel factories in Pennsylvania and New York. No criminal record at this time in the U.S.A.
52. Patsy Sciortino - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. Minor criminal record. Operated Diana Bleach Co. Auburn, N.Y.
53. Simone Scozzari - under boss in the LA family. Operated the Venetian Club in Los Angeles. Large real estate holdings. Arrest record included bookmaking.
54. Salvatore Tornabe - member of the Profaci (now Colombo) family, died December 30, 1957.
55. Patsy Turrigiano - member of Barbara or Magaddino family. Record dating back to 1928 included larceny, assault, prohibition laws, conspiracy to obstruct justice. Owned a grocery store in Endicott.
56. Costenza Valente - probable boss of the Rochester family. It’s debatable whether Rochester was an independent family or simply a part of the larger Buffalo family. Money came from produce and markets, restaurants and bars. Owned Valenti Bros Wholesale Produce, Rochester, N.Y. No criminal history in U.S.A.
57. Frank Valente - probable member of the Pittsburgh family. Capo under John La Rocca. Brother of Costenza. Owned Valenti’s Restaurant in Rochester, N.Y. Record back to 1933 including counterfeiting, extortion, assault and battery and murder. Considered a hit man for the mob.
58. Emanuel Zicari - member of the Barbara family. One arrest in 1930 for counterfeiting. Employed by Endicott-Johnson Shoe Co, Endicott, N.Y.
59. Frank Zito - Boss of the Springfield, Illinois family. Earned from coin machines and olive oil and cheese, also taverns. Record dating back to 1931 for murder and Federal Liquor Law violations.

Probable attendees included:

60. Some clothes of Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino were found in a car "stashed" in a barn at Barbara's a day or two after November 14th, 1957.
61. Detroit boss Joe Zerilli used his license to rent a car in Binghamton shortly after the fiasco.
62. Pittsburgh boss John La Rocca was registered at the Arlington Hotel in Binghampton, but he was never caught.
63. San Francisco boss James Lanza was registered in a motel in the area, but he was not caught.
64. Kansas City boss Nick Civella and…
65. …soldier Joe Filardo were tentatively identified as the two men who placed a phone call in a local business to call a cab after the police bust. In fact, it’s more than likely that the soldier, Filardo, was actually the boss at this time. FBI files revealed years later that Joe was representing Kansas City and had taken Civella along to introduce him to the other mob chiefs.
66. Neil Migliore, then a soldier in the Luchese family, was allegedly involved in a traffic accident in Binghamton the day after the fiasco. The speculation was that he came to pick up…
67. …Tommy Luchese, the boss, who was never caught (logic says he would have attended).
68. One of Barbara's housekeepers tentatively identified Carmine Galante, Bonanno's new under boss, as being one of several men who were still at Barbara's a day after the blow out.
69. Carmine Tramunti’s business card was found in the woods. Tramunti was part of the Luchese crime family.
70. William Medico- Pittson based member of Barbara’s crime family.
71. Louis Pagnotti -Member of the Pittsburgh Family.
72. Joseph Xavier Cerrito. Los Gatos CA. recorded attending meeting with James J. Lanza representing organization from San Francisco area. Operated Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Los Gatos, California.
73. Joseph ‘Sox‘ Lanza, the man who controlled the Fulton Fish Market in New York for the Genovese family, had booked a room at the Hotel Casey, in Scranton, 50 miles south of Apalachin.

Many other mobsters, including the Chicago delegation, were on their way to Barbara's and were lucky by arriving late and were able to avoid the fiasco. Estimates on the total number who may have actually been at the farmhouse, range up to at least 100. In this other group were most likely:

74. John Vitale representing the St. Louis Family
75. Louis Fratto. Capo from Chicago in charge of the Des Moines faction.
76. Frank Garofalo. Joe Bonanno’s underboss
77. Gaspare Di Gregorio. A capo in Joe Bonanno’s family.
78. Joe Biondo. Anastasia/Gambino family under boss.
79. Salvatore Giancana. Boss of Chicago
80. Frank Ferraro. Capo in Chicago Syndicate.
81. Joe Zerilli. Boss of Detroit.
82. Anthony Giacalone. Capo in this family.
83. Frank Balistrieri. Under boss of Milwaukee.
84. Joe Zammuto. Rockford, Illinois under boss.
85. Charles Montano. Under boss of Cleveland.
86. Joe Campisis. Under boss of Dallas family.
87. Vincenzo Colleti. Underboss of Denver family.
88. Luigi Greco. Underboss of Montreal family.
89. Giuseppe Cotroni. Capo in Montreal family.
90. Joe Marcello. Brother of Carlos, representing the Louisiana/New Orleans family.
91. Giuseppe Settacase. Capo of Agrigento family, Sicily. Representing the Sicilian Mafia. Don Settacase was mentor to the most powerful and wealthy Sicilian Clans in the Agrigento province and Sicilian La Cosa Nostra, the Siculiana-Caruana-Cuntrera Family and the Cattolica Eraclea-Rizzuto Family, who would become superpowers in the global narcotics and money laundering trade and rule mafia empires. After the Apalachin Summit, both the Canadian and Sicilian La Cosa Nostra were heard talking on R.C.M.P. and FBI wiretaps about how embarrassed the American La Cosa Nostra looked to their peers for the screw up at Apalachin.
92. Alfred Angelicola - New Jersey area La Cosa Nostra member was registered at a local motel with other known Mafiosi.
93.Philip Buccola - Former New England Family Boss based in Boston, Mass. from the mid 1920s until he retired and returned to Sicily in 1954. Buccola was regarded as a senior mafioso and counsellor who continued to make frequent trips to the United States to confer with various bosses. According to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (F.B.N.) Buccola was directly involved with American and Sicilian mafiosi regarding joint narcotics operations between Italy and North America and was observed arriving in Boston approximately two weeks prior to the Apalachin meeting. He was not one of the bosses detained in Apalachin, but the F.B.N. speculate that Buccola's reason for travelling to the United States at this time was to confer with the various American mafia bosses attending the Apalachin meeting. According to their files, two weeks before the mob meeting took place, the FBN, while bugging his phone, discovered about Apalachin, and agents of the bureau tipped off Sergeant Crosswel about what was about to take place. This was never confirmed by the state police officer.
94. Meyer Lansky was not present at Apalachin. It is believed that he and Joseph Stacher declined to go, but were invited to discuss the state of casino operations in Las Vegas and Cuba, since they were two of the operation's investors and overseers.

Since the most important and powerful Jewish National Syndicate Bosses such as
Abner Zwillman, Philip Kastel and Morris Dalitz, along with Lansky and Stacher (who were all present at the 1946 "Havana Conference" in Cuba) were not present for this summit, it seems reasonable to assume that the Apalachin Summit was strictly a Cosa Nostra meeting, of no importance to the other National Crime Syndicate Bosses, concerning national rules, policies or joint operations.


Joe Biondo, Paul Castellano and Carmine Lombardozzi at the time of the meeting.

Copyright © Thom L. Jones & Gangsters Inc.


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  • I didn't see any mention of Frank Sheeran, Russ "McGee" Buffalino's right hand guy.
    Frank Sheeran claims he was the one & only gunman that "kissed" Crazy Joey Gallo at Umberto's Restaurant.
    Check out the book "I Heard You Paint Houses" by Charles Brandt. 
    You may need to update some of your stories. 
    Just sayin'...
    Will Black

  • Sorry, not Joe Biondo

  • Agreed. Incidentally, the guy on the near side of the car is Joseph "Staten Island JoeRiccobono, not Joe Gallo.

  • Great, informative article.

This reply was deleted.


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