Died Johnson City, NY, June 17, 1959.
Barbara came to the United States from his native Sicily on May 26, 1921. He participated in Mafia bootlegging operations and had underworld contacts in New York City, Buffalo and Endicott, New York. In the post-Prohibition years, he gained control of the beer/soft drink distribution in the Binghamton, NY, region.
Barbara was suspected of involvement in a number of gangland killings. During World War II, authorities noted that rationed gasoline was being stolen from Barbara's bottling plant. Just after the war, he was convicted of the illegal acquisition of sugar, a federal crime.
Many believe that Barbara led a Mafia organization with a territory that included northeastern Pennsylvania and adjacent New York. However, it appears far more likely that he was a Buffalo Mob capodecina with regional authority in the Endicott area. The northeast Pennsylvania Mafia appears to have been an independent crime family ruled by the "Men of Montedoro."
After they were apprehended, many of the 60-plus Mafiosi told authorities that they were at Barbara's home to look in on him after his recent heart attack. Barbara was in ill health at the time and was able to avoid much post-convention interrogation due to his heart condition (his son, however, was repeatedly interrogated). After having chest pains for several days, Barbara collapsed at his home in Endicott on May 29, 1959. He was rushed to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City. He died there on June 17.
- Informer (Jan 2009): The Mob's Worst Year - 1957.
- Read about Joe Barbara in:
Dicarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime - Vol. II