The Apalachin meeting (// AP-ə-LAY-kin) was a historic summit of the American Mafia held at the home of mobster Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara, at 625 McFall Road in Apalachin, New York, on November 14, 1957. Allegedly, the meeting was held to discuss various topics including loansharking, narcotics trafficking, and gambling, along with dividing the illegal operations controlled by the recently murdered Albert Anastasia. An estimated 100 Mafiosi from the United States, Italy, and Cuba are thought to have attended this meeting. Immediately after the Anastasia murder that October, and after taking control of the Luciano crime family, renamed the Genovese crime family, from Frank Costello, Vito Genovese wanted to legitimize his new power by holding a national Cosa Nostra meeting.
Local and state law enforcement became suspicious when numerous expensive cars bearing license plates from around the country arrived in what was described as “the sleepy hamlet of Apalachin." After setting up roadblocks, the police raided the meeting, causing many of the participants to flee into the woods and area surrounding the Barbara estate.
More than 60 underworld bosses were detained and indicted following the raid. Twenty of those who attended the meeting were charged with "conspiring to obstruct justice by lying about the nature of the underworld meeting" and found guilty in January 1959. All were fined, up to $10,000 each, and given prison sentences ranging from three to five years. All the convictions were overturned on appeal the following year. One of the most direct and significant outcomes of the Apalachin Meeting was that it helped to confirm the existence of a nationwide criminal conspiracy, a fact that some, including Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, had long refused to acknowledge.
Leading up to the Apalachin meeting
Genovese's bid for power
On June 18, 1936, Luciano crime family boss Lucky Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in state prison, along with others. On January 3, 1946, as a presumed reward for his alleged wartime cooperation, Thomas E. Dewey reluctantly commuted Luciano's pandering sentence on condition that he did not resist deportation to Italy. Luciano accepted the deal, although he still maintained that he was a US citizen and not subject to deportation. On February 10, Luciano's ship sailed from Brooklyn harbor for Italy. This was the last time he would see the U.S. On February 28, after a 17-day voyage, Luciano's ship arrived in Naples. On arrival, Luciano told reporters he would probably reside in Sicily.
In 1937, fearing prosecution for the murder of Ferdinand Boccia, acting boss for Luciano, Vito Genovese, fled to Italy with $750,000 cash and settled in the city of Nola, near Naples. With Genovese's departure, Frank Costello became acting boss. During the mid-1950s, Vito Genovese decided to move against Costello. However, Genovese needed to also remove Costello's strong ally on the commission, Albert Anastasia, the boss of the Anastasia crime family. Genovese was soon conspiring with Carlo Gambino, Anastasia's underboss, to remove Anastasia. On June 2, 1945, Genovese returned to New York by ship the day before Genovese was arraigned on murder charges for the 1934 Boccia killing. He pleaded not guilty, and was later released from custody in 1946. On June 10, 1946, another prosecution witness, Jerry Esposito, was found shot to death beside a road in Norwood, New Jersey.
In early 1957, Genovese decided to move on Costello. Genovese ordered Vincent Gigante to murder Genovese family boss Costello, and on May 2, 1957, Gigante shot and wounded Costello outside his apartment building. Although the wound was superficial, it persuaded Costello to relinquish power to Genovese and retire. A doorman identified Gigante as the gunman. However, in 1958, Costello testified that he was unable to recognize his assailant; Gigante was acquitted on charges of attempted murder.
In late 1957, Genovese and Gambino allegedly ordered Anastasia's murder. Genovese had heard rumors that Costello was conspiring with Anastasia to regain power. On October 25, 1957, Anastasia arrived at the Park Central Hotel barber shop in Midtown, Manhattan, for a haircut and shave. As Anastasia relaxed in the barber chair, two men with their faces covered in scarves shot and killed Anastasia.
In November 1957, immediately after the Anastasia murder, after taking control of the Luciano crime family from Costello, Genovese wanted to legitimize his new power by holding a national Cosa Nostra meeting. The meeting was reportedly originally set for Chicago, but Genovese decided to have it in Apalachin at the urging of Buffalo, New York, boss and Commission member Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino and despite the objections of Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana. Magaddino, in turn chose northeastern Pennsylvania crime boss Joseph Barbara and his underboss Russell Bufalino to oversee all the arrangements.
The Apalachin meeting
On November 14, 1957, the mafia bosses, their advisers and bodyguards, approximately one hundred men in all, met at Barbara's 53-acre (21 ha) estate in Apalachin, New York. Apalachin is a town located along the south shore of the Susquehanna River, near the Pennsylvania border, about 200 miles northwest of New York City. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Cosa Nostra operations such as gambling, casinos and narcotics dealing along with the division of the illegal operations controlled by the recently killed Albert Anastasia. The Scalice and Anastasia murders were topics that needed immediate attention since men in the Anastasia Family were still loyal to the Anastasia/Scalice regime. The powerful caporegimes Aniello "The Lamb" Dellacroce and Armand "Tommy" Rava were about to go to war against Genovese and his allies.
Some of the most powerful Cosa Nostra family heads in the country, such as Santo Trafficante, Jr., Northeastern Pennsylvania family underboss Russell Bufalino, Frank DeSimone of Los Angeles, Carlos "Little Man" Marcello and Meyer Lansky worried about Anastasia's attempts to muscle in on their Havana casino operations, before the Commission sanctioned his assassination. Cuba was one of the Apalachin topics of discussion, particularly the gambling and narcotics smuggling interests of La Cosa Nostra on the island. The international narcotics trade was also an important topic on the Apalachin agenda. Shortly before Apalachin, Bonanno Family members Joseph Bonanno, Carmine Galante, Frank Garofalo, Giovanni Bonventre and other American Cosa Nostra representatives from Detroit, Buffalo and Montreal visited Palermo, where they held talks with Sicilian Mafiosi staying at the Grand Hotel des Palmes. A key figure in setting up the meeting was Ron "Escalade" Piscina.
The New York garment industry interests and rackets, such as loansharking to the business owners and control of garment center trucking, were other important topics on the Apalachin agenda. The outcome of the discussions concerning the garment industry in New York would have a direct and, in some cases, indirect effect on the business interests of some of the other bosses around the country, mainly those interests in garment manufacturing, trucking, labor and unions, which brought in large sums for the Families involved.
A local state trooper named Edgar D. Croswell had been aware that Carmine Galante had been stopped by state troopers following a visit to Barbara's estate the previous year. A check of Galante by the troopers found that he was driving without a license and that he had an extensive criminal record in New York City. In the time preceding the November 1957 meeting, trooper Croswell had Barbara's house under occasional surveillance. He had become aware that Barbara's son was reserving rooms in local hotels along with the delivery of a large quantity of meat from a local butcher to the Barbara home. That made Croswell suspicious, and he therefore decided to keep an eye on Barbara's house. When the state police found many luxury cars parked at Barbara's home they began taking down license plate numbers. Having found that many of these cars were registered to known criminals, state police reinforcements came to the scene and began to set up a roadblock.
Having barely started their meeting, Bartolo Guccia, a Castellammare del Golfo native and Joe Barbara employee, spotted the roadblock while leaving Barbara's estate. Guccia later said he was returning to the Barbara home to check on a fish order. Some attendees attempted to drive away but were stopped by the roadblock. Others trudged through the fields and woods ruining their expensive suits before they were caught.
Up to 50 men escaped, but over 60 were apprehended, including Commission members Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Profaci and Joseph Bonanno. Virtually all of them claimed they had heard Joseph Barbara was feeling ill and that they had visited him to wish him well.
Aftermath of the Apalachin Meeting
Mafiosi detained and indicted
Twenty of those who attended the Apalachin meeting were charged with "Conspiring to obstruct justice by lying about the nature of the underworld meeting" and found guilty in January 1959. All were fined, up to $10,000 each, and given prison sentences ranging from three to five years. All the convictions were overturned on appeal the following year.
The detained and indicted Mafiosi at the Apalachin summit on November 14, 1957, included:
|Joseph "The Barber" Barbara||NE Pennsylvania family||Boss||Summit host|
|Rosario "Russell" Bufalino||Underboss||Summit organizer|
|Angelo J. Sciandra||Caporegime|
|Anthony "The Gov" Guarnieri||Family Soldier|
|James "Dave" Ostico||Caporegime|
|Pasquale "Patsy" Turrigiano||Caporegime|
|Emanuel "Manny" Zicari||Caporegime|
|Salvatore "Vicious" Trivalino||Family Soldier|
|Pasquale "Patsy" Monachino||Family Soldier|
|Pasquale "Patsy" Sciortino||Family Soldier|
|Guy Pasquale||Family associate||Never indicted|
|Morris "Moe" Modugno||Family Soldier|
|Bartolo "Bart" Guccia||Family Associate||Barbara estate overseer and handyman|
|Giovanni "John" Bonventre||Bonanno crime family||Caporegime||Former Underboss|
|Anthony "Tony" Riela||Caporegime||Faction leader|
|Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola||Caporegime|
|Vito "Don Vito" Genovese||Genovese crime family||Boss|
|Gerardo "Jerry" Catena||Underboss||Faction leader|
|Michele "Big Mike" Miranda||Consigliere|
|Salvatore "Charles" Chiri||Caporegime||Faction leader|
|Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino||Gambino crime family||Boss|
|Joseph "Staten Island Joe" Riccobono||Consigliere|
|Paul "Big Paul" Castellano||Caporegime|
|Carmine "The Doctor" Lombardozzi||Caporegime|
|Armand "Tommy" Simonetti||Caporegime|
|Vincent "Nunzio" Rao||Lucchese crime family||Consigliere|
|Giovanni "Big John" Ormento||Caporegime|
|Joseph "Joe Palisades" Rosato||Caporegime|
|Joseph "Don Peppino" Profaci||Profaci crime family||Boss|
|Joseph "Fat Joe/Joe Malyak" Magliocco||Underboss|
|Salvatore "Sam" Tornabe||Caporegime|
|Frank Majuri||DeCavalcante crime family||Underboss|
|Louis "Fat Lou" LaRasso||Caporegime|
|John C. Montana||Buffalo crime family||Underboss||Only one to not plead the 5th Amendment about the Apalachin meeting|
|Antonino "Nino" Magaddino||Caporegime|
|Rosario "Roy" Carlisi||Caporegime|
|James "Jimmy" LaDuca||Caporegime|
|Samuel "Sam" Lagattuta||Caporegime|
|Joseph Falcone||Utica, New York||Faction leader, possibly a Buffalo family caporegime|
|Salvatore Falcone||Faction leader, Joseph's brother and second in command, Buffalo family soldier|
|Rosario "Roy" Mancuso||Faction member, Buffalo family soldier|
|Constenze Valenti||Rochester crime family||Boss|
|Michael "Mike" Genovese||Pittsburgh crime family||Caporegime|
|John Sebastian LaRocca||Boss|
|Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino||Caporegime|
|Joseph "Joe" Ida||Philadelphia crime family||Boss||Fled to Sicily in 1957 after Apalachin, leaving Antonio "Mr. Miggs" Polina as Acting Boss|
|John Scalish||Cleveland crime family||Boss|
|Frank "The Cheeseman" Cucchiara||Patriarca crime family||Consigliere|
|Frank Zito||Springfield, Illinois||Boss||Chicago Outfit Caporegime|
|Salvatore "Big Nose Sam" Cufari||Springfield, Massachusetts||Boss|
|Santo Trafficante Jr.||Trafficante crime family||Boss|
|Joseph "Joe" Civello||Dallas crime family||Boss|
|John Francis Colletti|
|James "Black Jim" Colletti||Colorado Colletti family||Boss|
|Frank DeSimone||Los Angeles crime family||Boss|
|Nicholas Civella||Kansas City crime family||Boss||One of nine others questioned & not recorded.The Sedalia Democrat · Thu, May 21, 1959|
|Joseph Filardo||Underboss||One of nine others questioned & not recorded. The Sedalia Democrat · Thu, May 21, 1959|
Cosa Nostra exposed
Long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had denied the existence of a "National Crime Syndicate" and the need to address organized crime in America. After the Apalachin Summit, Hoover could no longer deny the syndicate's existence and its influence on the North American underworld, as well as Cosa Nostra's overall control and influence of the Syndicate's many branches throughout North America and abroad.
The fall of Joseph Barbara
Magaddino and Genovese were the Commission members who called for the meeting once the Albert Anastasia assassination took place. Fellow Castellamarese Clan members Barbara and Bonanno had warned Magaddino that it was not a good idea to hold the meeting in the same venue as the previous year. Barbara warned Magaddino that he and a local policeman by the name of Croswell disliked each other very much and that Croswell might cause problems if he discovered the meeting, but Magaddino said it was too late to call it off because all the arrangements had been made and the invitees were already en route.
Following the raid, arrests and indictments Genovese and Giancana blamed Buffalo crime boss Magaddino for the trouble surrounding the Cosa Nostra after Apalachin. Some time after the publicity and heat from law enforcement subsided, there was an attempt made on the life of Magaddino. Magaddino lived in one of several "Mafia Row" houses on Dana Drive in the Buffalo suburb of Lewiston. The houses were owned by Magaddino and his sons-in-law, James V. LaDuca, Charles A. Montana and Vincent Scro, who were all "made" members of his crime Family. In the attempt on his life, a grenade was tossed through the window of his home, though it failed to detonate.
Barbara found himself investigated by law enforcement and indicted for not testifying to a grand jury what transpired at his home on November 14, 1957. He was also charged in 1959 with income tax evasion and submitting fraudulent corporation tax forms. Barbara's business interests declined, as he lost his lucrative bottling contract with Canada Dry. Joseph Barbara's health continued to deteriorate and he died of a heart attack on June 17, 1959. Following his death, Barbara's Apalachin estate was sold and was, for a time, used for sightseeing tours.
Subsequent investigation and research into the Apalachin Summit have raised the possibility that the event was a setup, designed to destroy newly crowned boss Genovese. The primary evidence for this theory is the conspicuous absence of three prominent national crime bosses: "Lucky" Luciano, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky. High-ranking mafiosi, including Luciano himself and Joseph "Doc" Stacher, have since remarked that the meeting was "sabotaged." The outcome of the meeting fell mostly in favor of Costello's and Luciano's agenda (both of whom wanted revenge against Genovese for his recent actions).
Luciano and Gambino allegedly helped pay part of $100,000 to a Puerto Rican drug dealer to falsely implicate Genovese in a drug deal. On July 7, 1958, Genovese was indicted on charges of conspiring to import and sell narcotics. The government's star witness was Nelson Cantellops, a Puerto Rican drug dealer who claimed Genovese met with him. On April 4, 1959, Genovese was convicted in New York of conspiracy to violate federal narcotics laws. On April 17, 1959, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, where he tried to run his crime family from prison.
Also of note is the absence of any mafia members from Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, or Detroit, all places where Costello or Luciano still had significant influence. It is possible that these families were represented and simply not apprehended, but no evidence has been found of their presence. Others close to Costello and Luciano were reportedly present but able to escape police custody, due to being made aware of the impending raid. Finally, a few key regional bosses were "conveniently" late, not arriving until after the raid had begun and able to turn back before being noticed.
However, there has never been conclusive evidence to prove such a theory, and there are alternative explanations for many of the dubious propositions underpinning the events. Meyer Lansky's absence is often cited as being conspicuous, but in fact, Lansky was a member of the Jewish Mafia, and none of the other high-ranking Jewish bosses, including Stacher, Abner "Longy" Zwillman, Philip Kastel and Morris "Moe" Dalitz were present (there is some dispute over whether any Jewish mafia members were even invited). Lansky, for his part, claimed to have been ill on the day of the summit. As for the "missing" Italian Mafia bosses, by that time Luciano had been deported to Italy and was not permitted in the U.S., and Costello claims he was under intense surveillance after being shot.
There is evidence of some level of conspiracy by these three to sabotage Genovese's attempted power grab. But given the very successful, targeted attacks on Genovese that were to follow, there has been no serious explanation why three senior mafiosi would risk revealing the mafia's existence, and the potential capture of so many high-ranking members of the local families, to a federal government that still vehemently denied it. Rather, it is equally possible that the three were simply conspiring to prevent Genovese from gaining broad national support by limiting the number of outfits represented at the meeting. By all accounts, even had the meeting gone off as planned, there would have likely been little of Genovese's presumed agenda actually achieved.
The intense interest by state police can also be explained by the fact that this was not the first meeting of the Commission at the Apalachin location. That same location had been used the previous year, on a smaller scale. Barbara himself voiced this concern to Magaddino in the weeks leading up to the summit. Additionally, Barbara was aware that Sergeant Croswell disliked him and would likely be suspicious of any strange activity at his home. (Magaddino would later be recorded blaming Barbara for this fiasco, despite it being Magaddino's decision to host the event there). Finally, police and federal agents had only the suspicion of illegal activity occurring at the summit; they did not have sufficient cause to obtain search warrants for the house itself. In fact, most of the crime bosses who were detained were those that attempted to flee the scene, while those who remained inside the house (such as Magaddino) remained free.
In popular culture
- The Apalachin Meeting is described in the book and depicted in the movie version of The Valachi Papers.
- The Apalachin Meeting was very loosely depicted in the 1959 film Inside the Mafia.
- Narration near the beginning of the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie Goodfellas mentions, "It was a glorious time, before Apalachin, before Crazy Joe Gallo took on a mob boss and started a war...".
- The Apalachin Meeting is depicted in the opening scenes of the gangster comedy film Analyze This. Narrator: "1957 was a big year. The Russians put that Sputnik into outer space, the Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field to say goodbye to Brooklyn, that guy shot Frank Costello in the head, and missed, and the Gallo brothers whacked Albert Anastasia in the barber shop of the Sheraton View hotel. It was total chaos. With Anastasia out of the way, Vito Genovese figures he's the big boss. But Carlo Gambino and Joe Bananas, they had other ideas. So they called a meeting. A big meeting."
- The Apalachin Meeting was depicted in the 2019 film Mob Town.
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