By David Amoruso
Posted on April 1, 2007

Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace was born on April 9, 1941. His career in the Mafia didn’t go without some bumps in the road. There were several attempts on his life. The first in 1976, when he was working as a florist in Brooklyn. Three holdup men tried to force Cacace in his car at gunpoint. He was shot in the chest but managed to fight back, and grab a gun from one of the men. Now in possession of a gun he fired at the man, killing him right there. The two other holdup men fled from the car, leaving Cacace and their dead partner behind. The critically wounded Cacace then drove to the 61st Precinct station with a dead body in the backseat. These incidents gave Cacace a huge reputation on the street. As a Colombo mobster his story showed similarities with the story of the crime family’s imprisoned boss Carmine Persico. Persico was once shot in the face during the Profaci-Gallo war, he spat out the bullet and drove himself and his wounded friend to the hospital.

Cacace became a feared Colombo mobster. When Colombo boss Carmine Persico was sent to prison for life after the Commission Case trial, he ordered Cacace to get a hit team together to kill U.S. attorney Rudolph Giuliani and William Aronwald. In March 1987 Cacace assembled a team comprised of brothers Enrico and Vincent Carini, and Frank Smith. Prosecutors believe Cacace wrote "Aronwald" on a slip of paper and showed it to the hit men, and they went to work. But the three men mistakenly killed Aronwald's 78-year-old father, an administrative law judge who ruled on city parking tickets. For doing such a bad job the Carini brothers were murdered and found in separate cars on a Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, block. Frank Smith was spared, and, fearing he could still be killed, would later become a government witness.

While Persico was in prison he maintained control of his crime family. At one point he appointed Victor Orena (picture on the left) acting boss. Orena would keep the position until Persico’s son Alphonse would be released from prison. But Orena liked being boss, and started looking for allies on the Commission to make it official. What came next was a full blown war. The Colombo Family was divided in two factions: those loyal to Carmine Persico, and those backing Orena. Initially Cacace sided with Orena, but later he switched sides and joined the Persico faction. During the war Cacace was ambushed by a gunman and shot in the chest and testicles. Cacace returned fire, first dropping his dry cleaning. When the war was over twelve people were killed, and the Persicos had won. In the years following the war around 57 mobsters were convicted in several trials (according to

Joel Cacace emerged as one of the leaders of the troubled Colombo Crime Family. He was labeled acting boss by the FBI, and as such had a huge bull’s eye on his back. With information from government witnesses such as Frank Smith, Cacace was indicted. On August 13, 2004 he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, admitting his role in the Aronwald murder, and received a sentence of 20 years in prison.

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