[Following is an excerpt from DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime - Vol. II.]
On November 14, 1957, Sergeant Edgar Croswell of the New York State Police, aided by troopers from the Vestal barracks and agents of the Treasury Department, broke up a convention of American mobsters at the rural Apalachin home of regional crime chieftain Joseph Barbara Sr. Scores of Mafiosi from around the country were rounded up and identified.
With known criminal figures from every region of the country in attendance, the crashed party at tiny Apalachin triggered years of investigations and compelled reluctant federal law enforcement officials to acknowledge the existence of a highly organized, interstate network of racketeers.
Croswell learned a day earlier that Joseph Barbara's son made a number of room reservations at the Parkway Motel on Route 17 in Vestal. Knowing of Barbara's underworld connections, the police sergeant and Trooper Vincent Vasisko investigated. They drove up to the Barbara residence, a large stone house surrounded by fifty-three wooded acres on dead end McFall Road in Apalachin. They noted the license plates of the few cars they saw parked on the grounds. One was registered in New Jersey. The officers went back to the Parkway Motel later in the evening of November 13 and found an Ohio-registered Cadillac. When Croswell learned that several men had checked into one of the rooms reserved by the younger Barbara, he asked motel proprietor Warren Schroeder to have the occupants sign registration cards. The men refused to give their names.
Barbara had a record as a bootlegger, so Croswell contacted the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Unit. Agents of the unit arrived in Vestal on the morning of November 14. The troopers and agents drove over to the Barbara estate. They observed a half dozen, expensive, new cars in a parking lot. Many more vehicles could be seen parked behind the home’s detached garage.
The Barbaras apparently were hosting a large gathering. Croswell called the barracks for additional help and advised Inspector Robert E. Denman of the state police headquarters in Sidney, New York.
With no warrant for Barbara’s home and no official justification for setting foot on his property, the troopers recorded the license plate numbers of visible automobiles and then set up a roadblock on the nearest state road, Old Route 17. They monitored traffic passing through toward McFall Road and stopped every vehicle leaving the area, demanding identification from drivers and their passengers.
Word of the police presence outside the estate reached Barbara’s guests by early afternoon, and dozens of men suddenly poured from the home. Many attempted to leave by automobile but were halted at the law enforcement roadblock.
|Elmira NY Star-Gazette, Nov. 15, 1957.|
At twenty minutes after one, a car carrying Barbara’s longtime friend Emanuele Zicari and Dominick Alaimo of Pittston, Pennsylvania, was the first to reach the roadblock.
Troopers next stopped a black, 1957 Chrysler Imperial registered to William Medico of Pennsylvania. Inside they found New York-New Jersey Mafia leaders Vito Genovese, Gerardo Catena, Joseph Ida and Dominick Oliveto, along with Rosario “Russell” Bufalino of Pennsylvania. A 1957 Cadillac contained Cleveland Mafia boss John Scalish; John DeMarco of Shaker Heights, Ohio; James LaDuca of Lewiston, New York; and Roy Carlisi of Buffalo. Brooklyn underworld figures Carlo Gambino, Armand Rava and Paul Castellano were stopped in a borrowed car chauffeured by Castellano. In another vehicle police found Pittsburgh Mafiosi Michael Genovese and Gabriel “Kelly” Mannarino, traveling with Pittston, Pennsylvania, gangsters James Osticco and Angelo Sciandra.
Some of Barbara’s guests, either lacking automobiles or deciding that escape by road was impossible, ran off into the hilly woods and open fields surrounding the Barbara estate. Observing that suspicious behavior, police pursued them.
Antonino Magaddino, brother of western New York Mafia boss Stefano Magaddino, was apprehended at McFadden Road to the east of the estate. John C. Montana of Buffalo and Brooklyn underworld leaders Joseph Bonanno and John Bonventre were found in a cornfield nearby. When police reached him, Montana was tangled in a barbed wire fence. James Colletti of Pueblo, Colorado, and Simone Scozzari of San Gabriel, California, slid down a brushy hill to the west of Barbara’s home and were gathered up by police on the avenue leading to the Pennsylvania state line. Santo Trafficante, the crime boss of Tampa, Florida, and the representative of a growing number of Mafia investors in Cuban gambling casinos, was extracted from a wooded area near Barbara’s home.
The law enforcement operation in Apalachin ultimately collected almost sixty underworld figures. Two more – Nick Civella and Joseph Filardo of Kansas City – were picked up fifteen miles away at the Binghamton train station as they attempted to arrange transport home. All the captured men were brought to the Vestal barracks to be identified and questioned.
None provided a reasonable explanation for the gathering at the Barbara home; most insisted that they had all coincidentally dropped in to visit their ailing friend Joseph Barbara Sr., who recently had suffered a heart attack. Genovese, Ida, Catena and Oliveto refused to answer any questions. The authorities were convinced that the gathering had been prearranged for a far more sinister purpose. (Some suggested the meeting was held in order to establish a uniform policy with regard to narcotics trafficking. Others felt it was to divide up the rackets of the recently murdered Albert Anastasia or to settle succession issues in his Mafia organization, later known as the Carlo Gambino Family. Still others speculated that the purpose was to endorse the takeover of Lucky Luciano's former crime family by Vito Genovese.) However, with no legal grounds for holding the men, police had to turn them loose.
Further investigation led authorities to assemble a list of more than 70 underworld-connected Apalachin convention attendees from twenty-five U.S. regions:
- Apalachin, Binghamton, Endicott, New York – Joseph Barbara Sr., Joseph Barbara Jr., Ignatius Cannone, Anthony Guarnieri, Bartolo Guccia, Pasquale Turrigiano, Emanuele Zicari.
- Auburn, New York – Sam Monachino, Patsy Monachino, Patsy Sciortino.
- Boston, Massachusetts – Frank Cucchiara.
- Buffalo, Niagara Falls, New York – Roy Carlisi, Domenick D’Agostino, James V. LaDuca, Sam Lagattuta, Antonino Magaddino, John C. Montana, Charles Montana, Stefano Magaddino.
- Chicago, Illinois – Salvatore “Sam” Giancana, Anthony Accardo.
- Cleveland, Ohio – John DeMarco, John Scalish.
- Dallas, Texas – Joseph Civello.
- Elizabeth, New Jersey – Joseph Ida, Louis Larasso, Frank Majuri.
- Essex-Bergen Counties, New Jersey – Salvatore Chiri, Anthony Riela.
- Kansas City, Missouri – Nick Civella, Joseph Filardo.
- Los Angeles, California – Frank DeSimone, Simone Scozzari.
- Miami, Florida – Bartolo Frank Failla.
- New York, New York (Bonanno) – Joseph Bonanno, John Bonventre, Natale Evola, Carmine Galante.
- New York, New York (Gambino) – Paul Castellano, Carlo Gambino, Carmine Lombardozzi, Armand Rava, Joseph Riccobono.
- New York, New York (Genovese) – Gerardo Catena, Vito Genovese, Michele Miranda.
- New York, New York (Lucchese) – Americo Migliore, Aniello Migliore, John Ormento, Vincent Rao, Joseph Rosato, Peter Valenti.
- New York, New York (Profaci) – Joseph Magliocco, Joseph Profaci, Salvatore Tornabe.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Dominick Oliveto.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Michael Genovese, Gabriel Mannarino, John Sebastian LaRocca.
- Pittston, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania – Dominick Alaimo, Rosario Bufalino, William Medico, James Osticco, Angelo Sciandra.
- Pueblo, Colorado – James Colletti.
- Rochester, New York – Frank Valenti, Costenze Valenti.
- San Francisco, California – Joseph Cerrito, James Lanza.
- Springfield, Illinois – Frank Zito.
- Tampa, Florida, and Havana, Cuba – Santo Trafficante, Joseph Silesi.
- Utica, New York – Joseph Falcone, Salvatore Falcone, Rosario Mancuso.
News of the roundup of national crime figures in tiny Apalachin shook the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C. Despite the earlier discoveries of the Kefauver Committee and other investigators, Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover had insisted that criminal rackets were organized on no more than local or regional levels. The Apalachin incident revealed that known hoodlums from across the country were closely acquainted with each other. Many of the attendees were connected by business and/or family links.
In the wake of Apalachin, the withering attention of media and law enforcement was focused on American Mafiosi from coast to coast. Investigations into the gathering and its attendees were launched by state and federal legislative committees, including the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Government Operations and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (McClellan Committee), as well as a federal grand jury in Albany and Hoover's greatly embarrassed Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Additional information on the Apalachin meeting, its attendees and its impact on organized crime can be found in:
DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime - Vol. II
by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona.
- Gentry, Curt, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991.
- Guthman, Edwin O. and Jeffrey Shulman, editors, Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words, New York: Bantam Press, 1988.
- Hart, Arthur V., "Meeting of Hoodlums, Apalachin, New York, November 14, 1957," FBI report from Albany office, July 8, 1958, file no. 63-4426-171, NARA no. 124-90103-10092.
- Hunt, Thomas, and Michael A. Tona, DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime, Vol. 2 - From 1938, Hunt&Tona Publications, 2013.
- Kennedy, Robert F., The Enemy Within, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960.
- McClellan Committee, “Hearings before the Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field,” Part 32, Investigation of Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, Eighty-Fifth Congress, Second Session, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1958.
- McClellan, John J., Crime Without Punishment, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1962.
- Navasky, Victor S., Kennedy Justice, New York: Atheneum, 1971.
- Reuter, Arthur L., “Report on the activities and associations of persons identified as present at the residence of Joseph Barbara, Sr., at Apalachin, New York, on November 14, 1957, and the reasons for their presence,” State of New York Executive Department, Office of the Commissioner of Investigation, April 23, 1958.
- Roemer, William F. Jr., Roemer: Man Against the Mob, New York: Donald I. Fine, 1989.
- Ungar, Sanford J., FBI, Boston: Little, Brown, 1976.
- Fitchette, Woodie, and Steve Hambalek, "Top U.S. hoods are run out of area after 'sick call' on Barbara," Binghamton NY Press, Nov. 15, 1957, p. 1.
- “65 hoodlums seized in raid and run out of upstate village,” New York Times, Nov. 15, 1957, p. 1
- "Cops spoil mobster Apalachin reunion," Elmira NY Star-Gazette, Nov. 15, 1957, p. 1.
- “How hoodlum rally went haywire,” Syracuse Herald Journal, Nov. 16, 1957, p. 1.
- "Cops probe convention of gangland," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 16, 1957, p. 1.
- Feinberg, Alexander, “U.S. taking steps to deport aliens at gang meeting,” New York Times, Nov. 24, 1957, p. 1.