Nov 14, 1957 existence of Mafia syndicate confirmed
Famed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover 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 mafia's existence or influence on the underworld, as well as Cosa Nostra's control and influence of the many branches throughout North America and abroad. Here’s how it happened.
On June 18, 1936, Luciano crime boss Lucky Luciano was sentenced to 30-50 years in prison. On January 3, 1946, presumably as a reward for his alleged war-time cooperation, Thomas E. Dewey reluctantly commuted Luciano's pandering sentence on the condition that he not resist deportation to Italy.
Luciano accepted the deal. On February 10, his ship sailed from Brooklyn for Italy. On February 28, after a 17-day voyage, Luciano's ship arrived in Naples. Luciano told reporters he would probably reside in Sicily.
In 1937, fearing prosecution for murder, acting boss of Luciano family, Vito Genovese, fled the United States with $750,000 cash (worth $15 million in 2022) and settled in Nola, near Naples. With Genovese's departure, Frank Costello became acting boss.
June 2, 1945, Genovese returned to New York by ship the day before he was arraigned on murder charges. He pleaded not guilty and was released from custody in 1946. June 10, 1946, another prosecution witness was found shot to death beside a road in Norwood, New Jersey.
In early 1957, Genovese ordered Vincent Gigante to murder Costello, and on May 2, 1957, Gigante shot and wounded Costello outside his apartment building. Even though the wound wasn’t serious it convinced Costello to give up power to Genovese. A doorman identified Gigante as the hitman, but Costello testified that he was unable to recognize his attacker; Gigante was thus acquitted on charges of attempted murder.
In late 1957, Genovese heard rumors that Costello was conspiring with Anastasia to regain power, and allegedly ordered Anastasia's murder with Gambino . October 25, 1957, Anastasia arrived at the Park Central Hotel Manhattan for a haircut and shave. As he relaxed in the barber chair, two men with their faces covered shot and killed him.
November 1957, immediately after the Anastasia murder, after taking control of the Luciano crime family, Genovese wanted to legitimize his new power by holding a national mafia 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 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 crime bosses, along with their advisers and bodyguards, over one hundred men total, met at Barbara's 53-acre estate in Apalachin, New York. Apalachin is a town located near the Pennsylvania border, 200 miles northwest of New York City.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Mafia operations such as the division of the operations controlled by recently murdered Albert Anastasia. The Scalice and Anastasia murders were topics that needed immediate attention since men in the Anastasia Family were still loyal to Anastasia and Scalice.
Some of the most powerful family heads in the country, such as Santo Trafficante, Jr., Russell Bufalino, Frank DeSimone, Carlos "Little Man" Marcello and Meyer Lansky worried about Anastasia's attempts to edge in on their Havana operation. Cuba was one of the Apalachin topics of conversation. The international narcotics trade, New York garment industry interests such as loansharking and control of garment center trucking, were other notable bullet point on the Apalachin agenda.
The outcome of the discussions concerning the garment industry in New York would have a direct impact on the business of other bosses around the country in garment manufacturing, trucking, labor and unions.
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 decided to watch Barbara's house. When the state police noticed numerous luxury cars parked at the home they took down license plate numbers and discovering the cars were registered to known criminals, reinforcements came to the scene and began to set up a roadblock.
Having barely started their meeting, Bartolo Guccia, a 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 wood ruining their bespoke suits.
50 men escaped, and over 60 were arrested, including Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Profaci and Joseph Bonanno. All of them claimed they had heard Joseph Barbara was feeling ill and visited to wish him well.
After the Apalachin Meeting, Hoover created the "Top Hoodlum Program" to go after the syndicate's top bosses throughout the country.
As a direct result of the Apalachin meeting, the membership books to become “made” in the mob were closed, and not reopened until 1976. And that’s how the existence of the mafia was confirmed as fact.