Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Although history has shown criminals like Al Capone and Charles Luciano ran criminal organizations and would continue to be run by men like Albert Anastasia and Vito Genovese, a man named J. Edgar Hoover would become the leader of a national crime fighting organization that would be named the Federal Bureau of Investigation or F.B.I. For short, had always denied there was an existence of organized crime and many people believed this was because he was accepting money from the mob to turn a blind eye but that all changed one fall day in 1957 in a small New York town called Apalachin, pronounced (apa-lake-in). Apalachin is about two hundred miles north of New York City and close to the Pennsylvania border.
Apalachin hosted the largest organized crime summit to date. The meeting was held to discuss the discouragement of dealing drugs, to announce Vito Genovese as the capo di tutti capi or boss of bosses and to discuss the distribution of Mafia bossAlbert Anastasia's territory, as he was killed three weeks earlier in a barber shop in a hotel in New York City. Genovese called for this meeting with mob bosses from all over the country. He wanted the meeting to be held in Chicago, but a boss out of Buffalo, New York, Stefano Magaddino suggested that they hold the meeting at the home of his lieutenant, Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara, (pronounced bar-bare-ah) in the small town of Apalachin.
The meeting was held on November 14, 1957 but it was the day before that two state troopers were investigating a bad check charge at a motel in Vestal, New York, a small town near Apalachin, when the son of Joseph Barbara walked into the motel and reserved six rooms for a “Canada Dry Convention”. This attracted the attention of State Trooper Sergeant Edgar Croswell, one of the troopers at the motel. He had reason to believe that Joseph Barbara was involved with bootlegging and heard rumors that Barbara had ties to the mob. The troopers then spent the rest of the day keeping an eye on the motel, Barbara's home and Canada Dry bottling plant in Endicott.
The next day, the 14th of November, Sergeant Edgar Croswell, Investigator Vincent Vasisko and two Treasury agents, parked outside the Barbara house in the early afternoon. The uniformed troopers saw that there were about thirty cars and some with out of state license plates parked at the house and they began to write down the license plate numbers. They were spotted and the mob bosses were told of the troopers outside. They panicked and took off. Most hopped into their cars and took off while others took off into the woods, getting their expensive shoes muddied and coats torn on barbed wire fences. They tossed their guns and wads of money into the woods as well so they wouldn't be caught with them. The cars were stopped at a roadblock at the end of the road. The first car stopped had Vito Genovese in it. Out of the hundred plus men at the house, 63 of them were detained and brought to the Trooper Barracks in Vestal. They were questioned and released since they were actually committing no crimes. Approximately fifty of the men escaped capture by running through the woods or hiding in the Barbara house.
Among the men taken to the trooper barracks were mafia chieftains like Vito Genovese, Joseph Bonnano, Jimmy Civello, a boss out of Dallas, Cleveland boss John Scalish, and Philadelphia leader, Jimmy Colletti among others from New York and out of state. Most of the men captured had crime convictions and some had spent time in prison. All of the men captured were either Italian or of Italian descent and about half of them were related by blood or marriage.
Thanks to the efforts of two state troopers in a small town in upstate New York, J. Edgar Hoover, could no longer deny that there was indeed organized crime in this country.