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Nov. 14 1957 Apalachin Meeting Held

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Apalachin Conference

The Apalachin Meeting was a historic summit of the American Mafia held at the home of mobster Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara, 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 late Albert Anastasia. An estimated 100 Mafiosi from the United States, Italy, and Cuba are thought to have attended this meeting.Vito Genovese, then head of the renamed Genovese family, initially called the meeting as a way to recognize his new power as capo dei capi.

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. 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.

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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 La Cosa Nostra operations such as gambling, casinos and narcotics dealing along with the dividing the illegal operations controlled by the recently killed Albert Anastasia.[7][8] The Scalice and Anastasia murders were topics that needed immediate attention since men in the Anastasia Family were still loyal to the Anastasia/Scalise 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 Rosario "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.

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Conspiracy theory

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 mafiosos, 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).

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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.

The blame for the disastrous outcome of the meeting, therefore, can just as easily be laid at the ill-advised behavior of the attendees (dozens of license plates registered to known criminals, fleeing the scene upon the appearance of police, etc.) as any conspiracy theory. It is certainly possible, and well within the means of Luciano and his associates, to have engineered such a set-up. If that was their plan, it was largely successful. However, it is also equally likely that the three were simply able to capitalize on a serious blunder made by rival crime bosses at a crucial time.

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