The mob and the JFK assassination

With the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination approaching, I decided to share a few items of my own research on the matter.

These items could change our thinking about the nexus of mob leaders, rogue CIA agents, and anti-Castro Cuban exiles at the centre of most assassination scenarios. My information suggests it was the thwarting of the mob's vision to create a parallel governmental entity in America that propelled the plot.

The big piece of evidence is a reinterpretation of the November 1957 gathering in Apalachin, New York, of national leaders of organised crime, at Joe Barbara's estate, when the mob was outed to the US.

This revision is based on the statements of two impeccable police sources whose inside knowledge has never been part of the traditional story surrounding the event. Their statements cast a different light on how Apalachin could relate to the JFK assassination.

Sergeant Joe Benenati and George Karalus were New York State police troopers. Benenati was part of police operations at Apalachin and signed the official report of the incident.

Karalus served in a top-secret New York State Police Special Investigations Unit that wiretapped and monitored the operations of Buffalo mob chief Stefano Maggadino, who organised the Apalachin meeting.

According to Karalus and Benenati, traditional accounts explaining the purpose of the Apalachin meeting are incomplete. Item one on the agenda was expanding the political power of the mob in national life.

Perhaps the Mafia hoped to become a para-governmental entity in the US - as it had been for centuries in southern Italy.

Benenati knew about the agenda through his friendship with Melvin John Blossom.

Before the police activity began, Blossom, the caretaker of the Barbara estate, was in the same room with early arrivals, Joe Profaci (Brooklyn), Stefano Maggadino (Buffalo), and Tommy Lucchese (New York City). Blossom heard their pointed conversation, led by Lucchese, who wanted to expand the mob's national political power.

Fascinated by politics, Lucchese is reported to have been the diplomat who engineered the coup that made Lyndon Johnson John F Kennedy's vice-presidential running mate.

When Robert F Kennedy became US attorney-general, he vastly intensified his investigations and fierce attacks on the mob. Each of the crime heads closely associated with plot theories - Giancana (present at Apalachin), Tampa's Santo Trafficante (who attended Apalachin) and New Orleans' Carlos Marcello (represented at Apalachin) - are reported as wanting either RFK or JFK, or both, killed.

The three had personal as well as business reasons to want to eliminate either or both of the Kennedys. RFK was responsible for kidnapping Carlos Marcello (an illegal alien), dumping him in a jungle in Honduras to fend for himself. JFK "stole" Giancana's mistress. RFK tried to pin the Anastasia murder on Trafficante, who fled to Cuba for a time.

How much more would the princes of a parallel government take? Mob men had been working with CIA operatives to kill Fidel Castro. On their own initiative, the mob put out a $5 million hit on Castro, who had destroyed their business and gambling empires in Cuba. Why wouldn't they take the lead in acting against the Kennedys?

When we connect the political ambitions of organised crime, as developed by the time of Apalachin, to their thwarting by Castro and their attempted eradication by RFK, we might reasonably conclude the mob led the conspiracy against JFK.

* Silvio Laccetti is a retired professor of history at Stevens Institute of Technology.