Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Apalachin Meeting was a 1957 summit of US Mafia bosses that descended into a farce when those attending fled in panic after their gathering aroused the curiosity of the local police. It also helped to confirm the existence of the Mafia, which some - including J. Edgar Hoover - had refused to acknowledge.
The meeting took place on November 17, 1957 at the home of a middle-ranking mobster named Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara in Apalachin, New York. It was arranged by Vito Genovese, who was competing with Frank Costello for control over a substantial portion of the New York City underworld. Genovese had tried to have Costello killed but the gunman - Genovese's future successor, Vincent Gigante - had botched the job and Costello escaped with only a minor wound. Genovese feared a mob war and the meeting was supposed to settle things diplomatically. Also on the agenda was to hand Carlo Gambino the men and operations that had belonged to the recently slain Albert Anastasia and also whether the Mafia should get involved in the narcotics trade, the vast potential profits of which were negated by the heavy prison sentences handed down to those who got caught.
In addition to the bosses, the meeting was attended by their advisors and - because they did not trust each other - plenty of bodyguards, adding up to around a hundred men all at Barbara's 53 acre (214,000 m²) estate.
Around 1 pm that day, a state trooper was curious as to why there were so many luxury cars parked at Barbara's home and so began taking down licence plate numbers. He also summoned for back-up and received a grand total of two other police officers who started to set up a roadblock.
Having barely started their meeting, those attending Barbara's home panicked once they saw the policeman outside and began to flee. Some drove off but were stopped by the roadblock. Others trudged through the fields and woods, ruining their expensive suits and tossing guns and cash away in case they were caught. Locals reported finding $100 bills fluttering about the countryside for months afterwards.
Up to fifty men escaped, but sixty-three were apprehended, including Vito Genovese and Joseph Bonanno. Virtually all of them claimed they had heard Joseph Barbara was feeling unwell and had popped in to see him and wish him well. Everyone thought it very curious that so many men of Italian descent from various cities, the majority with criminal records, should just happen to be all gathering at one place at the same time, but as no crime had been committed the mobsters who were caught were all eventually released. It was a great embarrassment to the Mafia.
Joseph Barbara died of a heart-attack in 1959, but his old house still exists with new owners.
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