Joel Cacace

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Joel J. Cacace Sr.
Joel Cacace (mugshot).jpg
Federal Bureau of Investigation 2007 federal prison mugshot of Cacace in Florence, Colorado
Born (1941-04-09) April 9, 1941 (age 76)
Nationality American
Other names Joe Waverly
Occupation Racketeer
Criminal penalty 20 years
Spouse(s) Diane Marie
Children Joel Jr.
Conviction(s) Murder

Joel J. Cacace Sr. (pronounced Ka-KA-che) also known as Joe Waverly (born April 9, 1941) is a New York City mobster and acting head of the Colombo crime family. He was convicted of murder and is currently serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.[1]


Cacace is close friends with Colombo capo Luca DeMatteo and former acting boss Victor Orena. Cacace was involved in extortion, illegal gambling, and the hijacking and selling of truckloads of cigarettes.

Cacace married Vita Rose Cacace and they had one child, Joel (JoJo) Cacace, Jr. JoJo was reportedly a member of the Colombo family and was allegedly involved in labor racketeering[2] before his death from a heart attack on January 1, 2015.[3]

On December 20, 1976, Joel Cacace Sr. was ambushed by three robbers near his florist shop in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. After being shot in the chest, Cacace wrestled a handgun from one of the robbers, and shot and killed an assailant. The remaining robbers fled the scene. The critically wounded Cacace drove to a local police station with the robber's body in the backseat.[4][5]

Aronwald hit[edit]

In early 1987, imprisoned Colombo boss Carmine Persico ordered Cacace to kill federal prosecutors William Aronwald and Rudy Giuliani.[4] Persico believed that Aronwald, who had helped prosecute Persico, had been disrespectful to the Cosa Nostra. Killing a prosecutor was normally forbidden in Cosa Nostra tradition, but Persico wanted him murdered anyway. Cacace arranged for brothers Vincent and Eddie Carnini to murder Aronwald. Cacace gave the two hit men a piece of paper with the name Aronwald on it. However, Aronwald's father, George Aronwald, was an administrative law judge and shared his son's office; the gunmen thought he was the target. On March 20, 1987, the Carinis shot and killed George Aronwald Senior in a laundromat near his home.[6][7][8]

Furious at the Aronwald murder, the heads of the other New York "Five Families" demanded that the Colombos kill the Carnini Brothers. An enraged Cacace recruited Lucchese crime family member Carmine Variale and Bonanno crime family associate Frank Santora to eliminate the Carninis.[9] In June 1987, both Carnini brothers were found dead in the back seats of their cars in Brooklyn.[7] Concerned about the loyalty of his assassins, Cacace decided to murder them also. At the Carninis' funeral, Cacace allegedly pointed out Variale and Santora to a second pair of hitmen. In September 1987, Variale and Santora were murdered outside a Brooklyn social club in broad daylight. This extraordinary caution helped to temporarily conceal Cacace's involvement in the Aronwald murder.

Also in 1987, Cacace was involved in the unrelated murder of former New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Carlo Antonino.[9]

Colombo War[edit]

Despite the Aronwald fiasco, Cacace's brutal reputation gained him a large following among his men. One family member supposedly commented,

"With Joe dealing the cards, you never know where the next card is coming from - the top or the bottom or the middle of the deck.[10] "

Following the Carnini murders, Eddie Carnini's widow, Kim T. Kennaugh, moved in with Cacace and later married him. They soon separated and Kim divorced him.

In January 1991, during the 1990s Colombo War, Cacace attempted to kill Gregory Scarpa, a hitman aligned with the Persico faction. Cacace was a supporter of temporary acting boss Victor Orena, who was challenging Carmine Persico for control of the family. Cacace drove up next to Scarpa's car in Sheepshead Bay and fired at him several times. Scarpa escaped unharmed. On February 26, 1992, the two mobsters shot at each other again outside a social club in the same neighborhood. Two gunmen in a parked station wagon fired 14 shots at Cacace as he was visiting his dry cleaner. Although wounded in the stomach, Cacace drew a handgun and exchanged shots with the men.[11][12][13] Colombo enforcer Greg Scarpa later boasted about participating in the Cacace murder attempt.[14] As the Colombo War progressed, Cacace switched sides to the Persico faction, which ultimately won.[4]


On January 23, 2003, Cacace was indicted for the murders of Antonino, Aronwald, Variale, and Santora. On August 13, 2004, Cacace pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, illegal gambling and the four murders.[1] On September 8, 2004, Cacace was sentenced to 20 years in prison at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Cacace was later transferred to the United States Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas.

On December 18, 2008, Cacace was charged with ordering the 1997 murder of New York Police Department officer Ralph Dols. According to the indictment, Cacace felt humiliated that Dols, a Latino, had recently married Cacace's ex-wife Kim.[15] Cacace allegedly ordered Colombo capo Dino Calabro and soldier Dino Saracino to murder Dols. On August 25, 1997, Calabro and Saracino allegedly ambushed Dols outside his Brooklyn home and killed him.[16][17]

On November 26, 2013, a jury acquitted Cacace on the Dols murder charge.[18] As of November 2016, Cacace is imprisoned at the Tucson Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona. His projected release date is June 23, 2020.[19]


  1. ^ a b Griffin, Dennis N.; DiDonato, Andrew (2010). Surviving the Mob : a street soldier's life inside the Gambino crime family. Las Vegas: Huntington Press. p. 76. ISBN 1-935396-38-2. 
  2. ^ MCPHEE, MICHELE (February 27, 2003). "Building Biz Bust Nets Mob, Unions". New York Daily News. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  3. ^ MARZULLI, JOHN (May 9, 2016). "Family of Colombo mobster's late son in fight over charges of forged will". New York Daily News. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Amoruso, David. "Colombo Boss: Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace". Gangsters Inc. com. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Holdup Man Killed With His Own Gun". New York Timesho. December 21, 1976. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Mob Figure Admits Roles In Murders, Including Judge's" New York Times August 14, 2004
  8. ^ "Mob Chief is Facing Rap NY Daily News January 23, 2002
  9. ^ a b Cornell, Katie (January 23, 2003). "THE WHACK-Y WISEGUY WORLD - MOB BOSS CHARGED IN BOTCHED '87 RUBOUT". New York Post. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Sifakis, Carl (2005). The Mafia encyclopedia (3. ed.). New York: Facts on File. p. 74. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3. 
  11. ^ Martinez, Erika (August 26, 2002). "MOB EYED IN COP SLAY - COLOMBO BIG WAS WIDOW'S EX-LOVER". New York Post. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Harmon, Sandra (2010). Mafia son : the Scarpa mob family, the FBI, and a story of betrayal (1st St. Martin's Griffin ed.). New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 149. ISBN 0-312-62417-4. 
  13. ^ "Suspected Mob Capo, 51, Shot in Brooklyn" New York Times February 27, 1992
  14. ^ "THE LAWMAN & MAFIOSO FBI BIG AIDED MOB, FED SEZ" New York Daily News May 10, 2005
  15. ^ Marzulli, John (January 25, 2010). "Mob wiseguy in cop hit, Colombo hit man Dino (Big Dino) Calabro, strikes deal with feds". New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "11 Years After Officer’s Slaying, Reputed Mob Figures Are Indicted" New York Times December 19, 2008
  17. ^ "Former Colombo family boss indicted in 1997 murder of NYPD cop Ralph Dols" New York Daily News December 18, 2008
  18. ^ Marzulli, John (November 26, 2013). "Mobster Joel Cacace acquitted of ordering NYPD cop killed in murder tri". New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator". Retrieved 2013-09-16. 

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Alphonse Persico
Colombo crime family
Acting boss

Succeeded by
Carmine Persico