FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was behind the biggest law enforcement intelligence failure of the 20th century in repeatedly declaring that there was no such thing as the Mafia.
However, on November 14, 1957 state troopers raided the home of Joseph Barbara in Apalachin, NY where Italian crime bosses from across the country were meeting, and after the historic roundup even the good Director had to capitulate.
In his new book Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, The Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting that Unmasked the Mob author Gil Reavill provides the back story on the infamous meeting, and an excerpt is reprinted by the Daily News:
On the agenda: heroin, Cuba, divvying up Albert Anastasia's piece of the pie. Also, the elephant in the room, how best to recognize Vito's status in the overheated, competitive world of the Five Families of New York City.
Genovese's presence overwhelms the gathering. The "Right Man" is sitting right there. He wants to be crowned. He wants the capo dei capi, the boss-of-bosses title. With Costello wounded and out of the way, and Anastasia dead, who is there to deny him?
It doesn't look as though a simple "godfather" label is going to do it for Vito. Maybe just plain "God"? How about that? Would that satisfy his unquenchable thirst for power?
Following the Apalachin bust the FBI in 1958 released its so-called Mafia Monograph by which it at long last definitively recognized that "available evidence shows that beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Mafia does exist today in the United States, as well as in Sicily and Italy, as a vicious, evil, and tyrannical form of organized criminality."