After the Apalachin meeting in 1957, his little
empire all came apart. He lost his pistol permit, his liquor license
and his Canada Dry Franchise. He suddenly had a huge tax claim against
him. He lost his reputation both in the straight and criminal world.
His health deteriorated and he soon sold the Apalachin estate. Joseph
Barbara died on June 17, 1959 from a heart attack suffered on May 29, 1959.
After his father’s death, Joseph Barbara, Jr. moved to Detroit and became
a member of that powerful mafia family. Little was ever heard from
Another alleged reason for the meeting, (Purpose #2), was to draw up a
hit list of soldiers who had been disloyal and to make a decision whether
or not to knock off several federal narcotics officers who were making
life uncomfortable for everyone. A primary concern for the Dons was
the meaning of the 1956 narcotics law and how it would affect the syndicate
since most of them had deep financial interest in the massive international
sale of narcotics. This act gave a mandatory sentence of five years
for the first drug offense and ten for the second offense. For people
like Tony Accardo from Chicago, this meant that fixing a judge for a lighter
sentence was no longer going to happen since judges were now bound by law
to hand down five or ten year sentences.
The drug trade was becoming enormously lucrative for the gangsters.
Over the years, the Mafia chiefs received significant amounts of cash from
their gambling and union racketeering empires but now they needed to invest
in the international drugs trade, not only for its enormous profits, but
because it would give them control over the flow of the drugs into their
city. If they didn't control drugs, someone else would and then it
would only be a matter of time before someone else would control the streets.
In the early days, dope smuggling had been the sole province of New York’s
Legs Diamond, the Newman Brothers and Dutch Schultz who formed an alliance
with the Eliopoulos Brothers, the drug barons of Europe. Then in
1930 Louis "Lepke" Buchalter declared that he was going into the business
and by the mid 30's Lepke more or less controlled the United States distribution
of narcotics. Lepke's secret to success was bringing in two noted
underworld financiers, Jacob Lvovsky and Jasha Katzenberg to help him open
transportation inroads for heroin from Tientsin China. Both Lepke
and his chief lieutenant Emanuel "Mendy" Weiss were eventually arrested
and executed at Sing Sing Prison on murder charges. Lucky Luciano
had turned them in and in their absence took over Lepke's routes business.
Luciano tossed the Chinese Tongs out of the business, cornered the market
and increased the flow of dope into the United States. After Luciano
was exiled from the country, he continued monitoring the business from
Italy. In the 1930’s, demand for narcotics was high all over America
but decreased during the Second World War when the distribution channels
dried up, driving up the cost of narcotics. This was viewed as an
opportunity by the mob and by 1943, they had taken narcotics smuggling
away from the less well organized, older criminals who had been running
it. With its deep contacts in Europe, Asia and South America, the
mob was able to circumvent wartime problems while keeping the price up.
Up until 1956, the narcotics trade had more or less been a haphazard business
with assurance of a regular delivery system out of Asia and Europe.
Meyer Lansky from New Orleans and Carols Trafficante from Florida figured
out a way to regulate and distribute the flow of drugs in and out of Cuba.
The skyrocketing prices being charged to Mafia by wholesalers operating
out of Sicily, Cuba and other points in South America was another one of
the alleged major points of the Apalachin meeting. (Purpose #3).
Before serious discussions and agreements could be made, state and federal
law enforcement showed up at the Apalachin meeting. It all came about
when Sergeant Edgar Croswell, 44, and Trooper Vincent Vasisko, 31, from
the Vestal state police station were called to the Parkway Motel on Saturday,
November 13, 1957 to take a report from the owner who indicated a patron
had written a bad check. As the officers were collecting information
about the check writer, Croswell happened to look out of the office window
and saw Joseph Barbara’s son coming across the parking lot toward the motel
Croswell ducked into an adjoining lounge, pulling Vasisko with him.
At the registration desk Barbara Jr. said, "We want six rooms for two nights.
I'll take the keys with me. The people may be late." He said
he couldn't register the guests by name because, "I don't know exactly
who's coming. We're having a convention of soft-drink people.”
Having heard rumors that Joseph Barbara was involved in organized crime,
Sgt. Croswell was immediately suspicious. Croswell had been keeping
an eye on Barbara and was intrigued by this "convention" that was about
to take place. The two state troopers spent the rest of the day driving
over to Barbara's bottling works, and seeing nothing unusual, then drove
up to Barbara's estate and noted two out of state vehicles. They returned
to the HQ and called in Brown and Rushton who were in Albany.
The next day, at 12:40 PM, Sergeant Croswell accompanied by trooper Vasisko,
and two Treasury agents, Arthur Huston and Kenneth Brown, drove to Barbara's
53-acre estate located on the dead-end McFall Road and recorded the license
numbers of several of the cars in the lot. Upon being seen, Vasisko
drove the car out of Barbara's yard and down the hill.
They left Barbara's and drove to the crossroads and parked on the side
of the road while they discussed what to do. They did not immediately
set up a roadblock. A fish peddler drove down the road from Barbara’s
and passed by them in his business truck. Upon seeing them, he then
turned around and drove back to Barbara's. A few minutes later he
returned in his truck and again passed the parked agents. Guccia,
the driver, was not stopped on any of his three passes by the agents.
12:50, Croswell and his companions set up what amounted to a roadblock
at the base of the hill about half a mile from Barbara's home and. The
first car to leave Barbara's was driven by Zicari and contained Alaimo.
They were both known to Croswell and they were let pass without being stopped.
However, a few minutes later Croswell radioed to approaching troopers and
had the Zicari vehicle stopped, about seven miles east on RT 17, and the
two men formally identified.
At about 1:20 P.M.,
two of Barbara's guests, Emanuel Zicari and Dominic Alaimo, drove to the
roadblock. They were stopped and asked to identify themselves.
Next came Russel Bufalino in his Chrysler Imperial with passengers Joseph
Ida, Gerardo Catena, Dominic Oliveto and Vito Genovese When
questioned, Vito Genovese asserted that he didn't have to talk to the trooper
and would not respond to questioning. As more vehicles were stopped
by the blockade, the line of cars could be seen from Barbara's
house. The remaining guests quickly realized the coast was not clear.
Some estimated that 50 men fled into the woods muddying their silk suits,
their expensive shoes slipping on wet autumn leaves and tearing their fine
coats on barbed wire.
Croswell indicated that it was more like ten to twelve
men. Allegedly, some threw away guns and wads of cash, but this all
appears to be newspaper literary hype. In the words of Carl Sifakis,
“It was a ludicrous scene: immaculately tailored crime bosses, mostly
in their 50’s or older and no longer fleet of foot, climbed out of windows
or bolted through back doors and went racing through the woods, burrs and
undergrowth in a frantic attempt to escape.”
In his book, Honor Thy Father, Gay
Talese indicated that there were about 70 "delegates" at this "summit meeting"
in Apalachin. Most of them represented families in the Northeastern
area of the United States, "the center of many of the current problems"
facing the Mafia at the time. Twenty-three men were from New York
City or New Jersey, nineteen were from other parts of New York State, only
eight had come from the Midwest, three from the West, two from the South,
and three from overseas - two from Cuba, one from Sicily. The surprise
raid sent men fleeing.
Robert R. Hickey, a Harpur College student, lived down the road from Barbara.
As a child, he used to play with Joseph Barbara’s children. Two well-dressed
men wearing camel hair coats and spats stopped Hickey while he was driving
home from school. “It was an unusual day. My actual encounter
with them was brief. They got in my car and I took them down the
road. Then they flagged down another car, a friend of mine.”
The two were picked up in a car driven by local resident Glen Craig.
Hickey later discovered one of the men was Frank Majuri of Elizabeth, N.J.
and the other Louis LaRasso. Majuri was the underboss of the New
Jersey family, (Presently called the DeCavalcante family. LaRasso would
later succeed Majuri as the New Jersey underboss.)
Map of Apalachin, NY: (1) Apalachin Elementary
School, (2) Hafer home and the (3) Barbara Estate. The distance from
the Hafer home to the Barbara estate is about ¾ mile through the
woods or 1 ½ miles by road. It is less than a mile from Barabara’s
estate to the Elementary School through the woods.
Two other men who ran away from Barbara’s house
made it to nearby Apalachin Elementary School, which had just been built
and was to be dedicated the next day. Morris J. Cape, the school’s
principal, met with the men as they wandered into the empty building.
“These two fellas came in and walked all around and asked to use the phone.
They looked no different than anyone else. In fact, I thought they
were a couple of contractors.” Cape called a cab for the men and
they rode away. Russell Cabs of Endicott picked up the two guys and
two others further down the road. The men had the cab take a circuitous
route to Owego, on to Endicott, and then over to the Parkway. That was
their mistake. As the four tried to leave the area their car was stopped
by Trooper F.A. Tiffany and the four men identified.
At the roadblock, Croswell, Visisko and his reinforcements rounded up 63
men and took them to the New York State Troopers' substation in Vestal
where they were questioned. Among the stated reasons for being at
the gathering was Russell Bufalino and others’ claim that they had come
to visit a sick friend, Joseph Barbara, who was suffering from a heart
ailment. It was apparently a coincidence that so many people chose
the exact same day to visit a sick friend. (Purpose #5)
Croswell was anxious to charge any of these 63 men with some violation.
When a Californian named Simone Scozzaro indicated that his hometown was
Palermo, Sicily, Croswell asked for proof. Scozzaro said he had no
wallet or identification papers. Croswell considered filing a vagrancy
charge on Scozzaro. When Scozzaro reached in a pocket and pulled
out a $10,000 wad of bills, Croswell quickly determined that a vagrancy
charge would be fruitless.
Joe Bonanno, in his 1983 autobiography, claimed he was opposed to the meeting,
never planned to attend but had simply gone to the area to try and discuss
a number of issues with Stefano Magaddino, his cousin and Mafia Boss in
Buffalo. They met in a small town near Apalachin, but Bonanno
claims he wasn’t at Barbara’s that day. According to Bonanno, when
all the fleeing from Barbara’s house began, two of his men were hunting
in the area and accidentally drove across Barbara’s property. Cops
wrongly thought they were Barbara’s guests
since one of them was carrying Bonanno’s driver’s license.
this day, John Montana was considered an upstanding Buffalo businessman.
The Buffalo Police Organization had recently awarded him “Man of the Year”
honors. His masquerade and demise started that day in Apalachin.
Montana’s excuse was that he had car problems while driving by the area
and had stopped at the Barbara house looking for a mechanic. (Purpose
#6) To his surprise, Barbara was hosting a convention of some sort,
which broke into panic when cops arrived. Looking to avoid the confusion,
Montana went for a walk in the woods and was detained by police, a victim
of innocent circumstances.
|The discovery of the Mafia at the Apalachin meeting became a
large legal issue. Law enforcement wasn’t buying the stories of the
men visiting a sick friend, false identification and car problems.
On May 13, 1959, a federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted the sixty-three
men for perjury and obstruction of justice by refusing to divulge the true
purpose of their meeting at the Barbara home. The trial went before
Judge Irving R. Kaufman and lasted eight weeks before going to the jury
on December 17, 1959. After fifteen hours of deliberation, the jury
found twenty defendants guilty. The American Civil Liberties Union
contended that the trial raised "serious Constitutional issues" and announced
it would consider supporting an appeal. Nonetheless, Judge Kaufman,
on January 14, 1960 sentenced the twenty defendants to rather long prison
terms ranging from three to five years and thirteen of them were fined
Joseph Barbara’s estate located on McFall Rd., Apalachin,