He started out as a strong-arm, gunman, and all-around hood under the auspices of mafioso Giuseppe (Joe the Barber) Barbara Sr. In time, Gov would become one of Barbara’s closest aides and his “go-to” soldier to get “the job done.” A job that was alleged to have included more than a few homicides along the way.
Incorporated as a city way back in 1867, Binghamton in Upstate New York has a current population of approximately 47,000 residents. But at its 1950s peak, it boasted a populous of nearly 85,000.
Located in Broome County, the City of Binghamton lies in what’s called the Southern Tier region of the state right above the Pennsylvania border. Situated confluent to the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, it is the principal city and cultural center of the overall Binghamton metropolitan or “Triple-Cities” area and home to over 250,000 people.
With the early development of the railroad, Binghamton quickly grew in size and prosperity. It became the transportation crossroads of New York State and eventually a major manufacturing center for cigars, shoes, garments, and electronics, among many other products.
It also became a major location for defense contractors. The “flight simulator” was actually invented in this city. In recent decades, it is also home to computer development.
Major company names such as IBM, Endicott-Johnson Shoes, General Electric, Ansco, Valvoline, Canada Dry Beverages, and other large employers settled into the area through its early years.
At one time, it even had the well-earned moniker “Valley of Opportunity” because of the wide employment enjoyed there…but with the downturn and subsequent cuts made by defense firms after the Cold War era, the region lost much of its manufacturing industries and its previous allure.
It was among this early backdrop that many newly arrived Irish, German and Italian immigrants relocated up to the area seeking jobs.
Italians made up approximately 15 percent of the area’s total population and were a first among equals in their migration up to the Triple-Cities region of Binghamton, Endwell, Endicott, and its adjoining neighborhoods and territories such as Vestal and Johnson City.
Within this Italian settlement were many Sicilian and Calabrian natives, and among these natives were a small but influential contingent of hoodlums. They would develop into factions of several “borgatas” or Mafia Families that came to call the territory their own.
But of all these factions, none was larger or more dominant than that of Castellammarese born Giuseppe (Joe) Barbara. He would rise to become the premier Mafia capo or leader in the area. He ruled a small but influential and well-respected group of mafiosi active in all the typical rackets of the day.
After the death of Pittston-based boss Giovanni Sciandra, Joe Barbara would be nominated as the overall head of a borgata that actually stretched to the Pittston-Scranton area of Pennsylvania and its outer environs as well.
But Barbara’s home base and personal fiefdom was the Binghamton and Triple-Cities area of New York State.
As far as his New York State continent went, a first among equals as far as his devoted minions, was a young man who would later be “groomed” to become his trusted “capo di decina” in the state, and in later years, even a potential successor to his throne.
That man was Anthony (The Governor) Guarnieri.
This is his story and that of the “regime” he headed. First, for his “compare” Joe Barbara, and later after Barbara’s death in 1959, for the new boss Rosario Bufalino.