Joseph Barbara (mobster)

Joseph Mario Barbara[1][2] (/bɑːrˈbɛərə/;[3] born Giuseppe Maria Barbara, Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe maˈriːa barˈbaːra]; August 9, 1905 – June 17, 1959), also known as "Joe the Barber", was an Italian-American mobster who became the boss of the Bufalino crime family. He led the organization from 1949 until 1959, and hosted the abortive Apalachin meeting in 1957. Barbara died on June 17, 1959.

Joseph Barbara
Giuseppe "Joe The Barber" Barbara.jpg
Barbara in the Federal District Court in Syracuse, New York, April 1959
Giuseppe Maria Barbara

(1905-08-09)August 9, 1905
Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Kingdom of Italy
DiedJune 17, 1959(1959-06-17) (aged 53)
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery, Johnson City, New York, U.S.
Other namesJoe the Barber
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationCrime boss
Josephine Vivona
(m. 1933)
AllegianceBarbara crime family

Early lifeEdit

Barbara was born on August 9, 1905, in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, to Giuseppe Barbara and Angela Galante.[4] He immigrated to the United States in 1921, at the age of 16[5][6] and became a naturalized citizen in 1927.[7] He was soon working as a hitman for the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. During the 1930s, Barbara was arrested for several murders, including the 1933 murder of rival bootlegger Sam Wichner. Wichner had gone to Barbara's house for a business meeting, where Barbara allegedly strangled Wichner to death.[5] However, law enforcement never obtained enough evidence to prosecute Barbara. Though some mistakenly believe he ascended to the top of the Bufalino family in 1940 through the murder of John Sciandra, Barbara was more than likely a caporegime in the Buffalo Maggadino Family. John Sciandra passed away in 1949 of natural causes.[8][9]

Barbara married Josephine Vivona on June 24, 1933, in Endicott, New York,[6] and fathered two sons, Joseph Jr. and Peter, and two daughters, Angeline, who died at the age of two,[10] and Angela.[11]

Country estateEdit

In 1944, Barbara bought a 58-acre (23 ha) parcel of land in the rural town of Apalachin, New York, and built an estate on 625 McFall Road for a total of $250,000.[12][13] Barbara soon involved himself in local business circles and philanthropy. When Barbara applied for a New York handgun permit, the police chief of Endicott, New York, served as a reference.[14] In 1946, Barbara was convicted of illegally purchasing 300,000 pounds of sugar (intended for the manufacture of bootleg alcohol).[15] Soon after this, Barbara entered the soft drink distribution business, buying a Canada Dry bottling plant. Barbara eventually gained control of the beer and soft drink market in Binghamton, New York. In 1956, a conference between dozens of mobsters was held at Barbara's estate; Barbara also suffered a heart attack that year.[5]

The Apalachin meetingEdit

In 1957, after taking control of the Luciano crime family from boss Frank Costello, boss Vito Genovese wanted to legitimize his new power by holding a national Cosa Nostra meeting. Genovese elected Buffalo, New York boss and Commission member, Stefano "the Undertaker" Magaddino, who in turn chose his caporegime Joseph Barbara and his Northeastern Pennsylvania boss Russell Bufalino to oversee all the arrangements.[16][17]

On November 14, 1957, Barbara's estate in Apalachin was used again to hold a large meeting—over 100 mafiosi from the United States, Italy and Cuba.[18][19] 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.[20] The New York garment industry interests and rackets, such as loansharking to the business owners and control of garment center trucking, were other important topics on the Apalachin agenda.[21]

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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3][22] That made Croswell suspicious, and he therefore decided to keep an eye on Barbara's house.[23] When the state police found many luxury cars parked at Barbara's home they began taking down license plate numbers. Having found that many of these cars were registered to known criminals, state police reinforcements came to the scene and began to set up a roadblock.[22]

Having barely started their meeting, Bartolo Guccia, a Castellammare del Golfo native and Barbara employee, spotted a police 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 woods ruining their expensive suits before they were caught.[24] Many Mafiosi escaped through the woods surrounding the Barbara estate.[25]

Up to 50 men escaped, but over 60 were apprehended, including Commission members Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Profaci and Joseph Bonanno. Virtually all of them claimed they had heard Joseph Barbara was feeling ill and that they had visited him to wish him well.[26]

Aftermath of ApalachinEdit

Barbara found himself investigated by law enforcement and indicted for not testifying to a grand jury about what transpired at his home on November 14, 1957.[27] In 1959, he was also charged with income tax evasion and submitting fraudulent corporation tax forms.[28] On April 27, 1959, Barbara pleaded innocent to income tax charges before the Federal District Court in Syracuse, New York.[6] Barbara's business interests declined, as he lost his lucrative bottling contract with Canada Dry. Barbara's health continued to deteriorate, suffering a heart attack on May 27, 1959, and another on June 17, 1959, at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City, New York, killing him.[29][23] Following his death, Barbara's Apalachin estate was sold for $130,000, and, for a time, was used for sightseeing tours.[30] Barbara is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Johnson City, New York.[31]

The Apalachin meeting put the media spotlight directly on the secretive Cosa Nostra, triggering both state and federal hearings. As a result, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director J. Edgar Hoover could no longer deny the existence of the Cosa Nostra in the United States.[25]


  1. ^ Weston, Cael (November 1, 1988). "RHOADES CONFIRMS CRIME FIGURE SUPPORT". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 2, 2020. Joseph Mario Barbara Sr., a former boss of the northeastern Cosa Nostra family who hosted the now-infamous Appalachian crime meeting.
  2. ^ Hunt, Thomas. "The American Mafia - Who Was Who: Barbara, Joseph "Barber" (1905-1959)".
  3. ^ a b c d Blumenthal, Ralph (July 31, 2002). "For Sale, a House With Acreage. Connections Extra.; Site of 1957 Gangland Raid Is Part of Auction on Saturday". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2012. Mr. Barbara (pronounced Bar-BARE-a), [...] Mr. Vasisco recalled that in 1956, about a year before the big raid, troopers stopped a car with fake plates. Inside was Carmine Galante, a Bonanno underboss. An investigation pointed to some kind of crime conclave in Binghamton. [...] "We get back out of the way and listen," Mr. Vasisco said. They heard the younger Barbara reserve six rooms, saying his father would pay.
  4. ^ "Immagine 109". Antenati (in Italian). Retrieved August 2, 2020. L'anno millenovecentocinque, addì dieci di Agosto [...] è comparso Barbara Giuseppe, [...] il quale mi ha dichiarato che alle ore [...] del dì dieci del corrente mese [...] da Galante Angela di Antonino sua moglie [...] è nato un bambino di sesso maschile che egli mi presenta, e a cui dà il nome di Giuseppe.
  5. ^ a b c Sifakis, Carl (2005). The Mafia Encyclopedia. Infobase Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8160-6989-7. joseph barbara 1956 heart attack.
  6. ^ a b c "Sicilian Immigrant's Dream Was Smashed by Headlines". Press & Sun-Bulletin. June 18, 1959. p. 3. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via Joseph Barbara [...] came to this country in 1921 from Sicily as an obscure immigrant. [...] On June 24, 1933, [...] Joseph Barbara was married to Josephine Vivona of 4 Garfield Avenue, Endicott, [...] DAY IN COURT—The ailing Joseph Barbara looked like this on his last appearance in court, last April 27 when he pleaded innocent to income tax charges in Federal District Court in Syracuse  
  7. ^ Newton, Michael (2012). The Mafia at Apalachin, 1957. p. 86. ISBN 9780786489862. he immigrated to the United States at the age of 15 or 16 and was naturalized in 1927.
  8. ^ "John Sciandra, Mine Official, Dies". Times Leader. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. September 12, 1949. p. 20. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via  
  9. ^ "The American "Scranton crime Bosses"". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  10. ^ "Obituaries". Press & Sun-Bulletin. March 15, 1937. p. 5. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via Angeline Barbara, two years and four months' old died [...] after a short illness. She is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Barbara; a brother, Joseph, and her grandmother.
  11. ^ "Death Ends Story of Apalachin for Barbara --". Press & Sun-Bulletin. June 18, 1959. p. 3. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via BARBARA SURVIVORS — Immediate survivors of the Apalachin host are, lefto to right, his children, Joseph Jr., Angela and Peter, and his wife, the former Josephine Vivona of Endicott.  
  12. ^ Newton, Michael (2012). The Mafia at Apalachin, 1957. ISBN 9780786489862. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  13. ^ Marzulli, John (November 11, 2007). "Upstate summit raid in '57 put mob on map & FBI on the case". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  14. ^ "How America Met the Mob" Archived February 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine American Heritage Magazine July–August 2000
  15. ^ "United States v. Bonanno, 180 F. Supp. 71 (S.D.N.Y. 1960)". Justia Law.
  16. ^ Glynn, Don (November 11, 2007). "Glynn:Area delegates attended mob convention". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  17. ^ McHugh, Ray (August 26, 1963). "Federal Attack, Internal Fights Trouble Crime Clan". Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  18. ^ Fitchette, Woodie; Hambalek, Steve (November 15, 1957). "Top U.S. Hoods Are Run Out of Area After 'Sick Call' on Barbara" (PDF). Binghamton Press. Binghamton, New York. p. 1.
  19. ^ Fitchette, Woodie; Hambalek, Steve (November 15, 1957). "Hoods Run Out of Area--" (PDF). Binghamton Press. Binghamton, New York. p. 8.
  20. ^ "Narcotic Traffic Called Topic In Apalachin Talks". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. February 28, 1960. p. 1. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  21. ^ "Narcotics Agent Calls Racketeers Black-Handers". Toledo Blade. July 1, 1958. p. 2. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Narvaez, Alfonso A. (November 21, 1990). "Edgar D. Croswell, 77, Sergeant Who Upset '57 Mob Meeting, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Host To Hoodlum Meet Dies Of Heart Attack". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. June 18, 1959. p. 7. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "20 Apalachin Delegates Are Convicted; Officials Hail Intelligent Verdict". The Telegraph. December 19, 1959. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  25. ^ a b "Apalachin raid on Mafia reverberates 50 years later". Mafia News. November 11, 2007. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010 – via Wayback Machine. a police raid sent Mafia bosses, their underbosses and capos running through the woods of Apalachin [...] FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover could no longer pretend that the crime families were not organized, Rossie said.
  26. ^ Tully, Andrew (September 2, 1958). "Mafia Raid Confirms 20-year Undercover Findings by T-Men". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  27. ^ "U.S. Launches Roundup of 27 Big Racketeers". Oxnard Press-Courier. May 21, 1959. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
  28. ^ "Apalachin Pals Rapped". The Newburgh News. March 14, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2012. A federal grand jury indicted Barbara on charges of evading payment of $14,600 in income taxes in 1952-56 and failing to report approximately $38,000 in taxable income for those years.
  29. ^ "Area Obituaries". Press & Sun-Bulletin. June 18, 1959. p. 40. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via JOSEPH BARBARA, SR., 53, [...] died at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday at Wilson Memorial Hospital.  
  30. ^ "Six Mobsters Yet At Large In Fed Sweep". Sarasota Journal. Associated Press. May 22, 1959. p. 2. Retrieved May 27, 2012. While the roundup was going on, the hilltop mansion and 53-acre estate of Barbara was sold for $130,000. Russell Terry, of Endicott, N.Y., a real estate dealer, said he and Laurie Quick of Endwell, N.Y., a builder, will reopen the place to sighteers at a fee to be determined.
  31. ^ "Sixty years ago, Mafia meeting put Apalachin on the map". Owego Pennysaver. November 14, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2020. Perhaps one final bullet item of interest, Barbara is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Johnson City, N.Y.

External linksEdit

"Joseph M. Barbara, Sr". Organized Crime Figure. Find a Grave. July 26, 2000. Retrieved August 2, 2020.

American Mafia
Preceded by Bufalino crime family

Succeeded by