.LLR Books


 (1941- ): Fearsome acting boss of Colombo

With the removal of John Gotti from the Mafia
scene, Joel Cacace was among the new breed of mob
bosses, one who inspired awesome fear and loathing
in both his foes and his own men. Back in the 1980s
Cacace was an ambitious mobster who understood
that to climb the ranks he had to follow orders to the
letter, giving no objections, nothing but strict obedi-
ence. The imprisoned boss of the Colombo family,
Carmine Persico, passed down word to Cacace that
he wanted William Aronwald, a former federal pros-
ecutor, murdered. Persico, according to later charges
by prosecutors, wanted Aronwald hit because he had
"disrespected" him. At the time of the order, Cacace
was not going to point out to Persico that his request
was contrary to Mafia rules that no prosecutor was
ever to be taken out by the mob, since it would most
certainly unleash a reign of terror against the crime
family. (Later, William Aronwald would be puzzled
by having been singled out for punishment, since he
had not personally prosecuted Persico although in
his Colombo cases he had handled prosecution
against Persico's brother Alphonse, also known as
Allie Boy. That case however ended in acquittal.)

Cacace obediently set up the machinery for taking
out Aronwald. It was to result in a tangled web of
intrigue that probably only wise guys could carry
out. Cacace himself traced William Aronwald to a
law office in Brooklyn that he shared with his 78-

year-old father, George M. Aronwald. Having
located the quarry, Cacace turned the contract over
to two brothers in the Colombo family, Vincent and
Eddie Carini. The Carinis shot Aronwald to death in
a laundry near his Brooklyn home. The trouble was
they had killed the elder Aronwald rather than their
assigned target, William.

Cacace's reaction was predictable fiery white rage.
Other crime family bosses also wanted the Carini
brothers eliminated. Wise guys who botch up hits
know they face retribution. The brothers may not
have appreciated their plight or at least the immi-
nence of the punishment. The Carini brothers were
hit, according to police, by a second pair of hit men,
Carmine Variale and Frank Santora, on orders from
Cacace. Then at the funeral of the brothers, investi-
gators said, Cacace pointed out Variale and Santora
to two other hit men. These hit men went off in
search of a gun, it being considered most improper to
attend a sad event armed. The Carini brothers' assas-
sins were shot dead in broad daylight in front of a
Brooklyn social club.

Thus, according to the allegations, Cacace had
arranged for the killing of the hit men he had hired
and then had the second set of hit men hit. If that
were all there was to the case, Cacace would have
been entitled to a high rank of fear and loathing,
even by the new boss standards of dirty dealing, but
there were more twists in the web. After the Carini
brothers were planted, Cacace married the beautiful
28-year-old widow of Eddie Carini. Sometime later
the couple separated and the former widow Carini
married a retired police officer named Ralph C. Dois.
And later, some might say predictably, of course,
Dois ended up murdered. All this could have been
mere coincidence based on affairs of the heart; in any
event prosecutors have tended not to enter that
thicket. The wise guys on the other hand may have
seen it as all part of a Cacace mosaic. According to
the boys Joel was one cool guy. As one criminal
observer said, "With Joel dealing the cards, you
never know where the next card is coming from — the
top or the bottom or the middle of the deck."

Clearly Cacace was ready to pick up the mantle of
the "new wave Don of the 2000s." He was in the
eyes of many wise guys a brutal leader who deserved
being followed — if a guy can find a way to survive.
But in 2003 Cacace was arrested for the usual racket-
eering charges of extortion, gambling, and murder.
The authorities had put together what they felt was a
strong case for conviction for the wrong-man murder
of George Aronwald. Cacace pleaded guilty to the
charges on August 14, 2004. One observer noted
that even behind bars, however, "He's the kind of
guy the mobsters will still fear and hate and still fol-
low his orders to the letter."