With No Explanation, AG Holder Nixes Death Penalty for Former Colombo Boss Joe Waverly

Joe "Waverly" Cacace, back
in the day.
Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace, former acting boss of the Colombo family, no longer need concern himself about being put to death by the state.

Cacace is charged with putting a contract on Officer Ralph Dols after the cop married his, Cacace's, ex-wife. Dols was off duty when he was gunned down outside his home in Brooklyn in 1997.

Earlier this week, the feds took the death penalty off the table, as per an announcement by US Attorney General Eric Holder, who "issued the course-reversing directive -- made public today -- without citing a rationale for his shift," according to the New York Post.

However, the decision may have something to do with the fact that Team America already tried to pin the murder of Dols on Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli and Dino Saracino in an earlier trial, and both men were cleared, a fact that Cacace's attorneys no doubt would get a lot of mileage out of during Cacace's upcoming trial.
Murder Inc. chief Lepke would
not be smiling so brightly in 1944,
when he was executed at Sing Sing.

From the beginning, the decision to include the death penalty struck many pundits as fortuitous. It is rare for 
the feds to seek the death penalty against a mafioso, but with Cacace, they had considered the lethal needle based on the premise that Dols was killed because he was a cop -- and not because he was involved in a mob dispute.

The last "mob boss," using the title loosely, to be executed was Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, who met the Grim Reaper (the real one, not Greg Scarpa!) on March 4, 1944, in the electric chair in Sing Sing, after two of his confederates met their own end in the chair.

As for Cacace, he has the distinction of allegedly ordering the hit of a police officer, as well as a prosecutor, although the latter hit was botched. The Colombo hit team had fired lethally upon a judge who happened to be the father of the intended target, a NYC prosecutor who Carmine Persico wanted hit.

In 2003, Cacace was finally charged with the March 1987 murder of George Aronwald, the father of a one-time mob prosecutor; he was shot to death in a Queens laundry by mistake.

The key witness against Cacace in that case was Lucchese associate Frank Smith, the only surviving member of the hit team that intended to kill Aronwald’s son, William, a former federal prosecutor who had been marked for death by jailed-for-life Colombo boss Carmine Persico.

Smith's two cohorts, Vincent Carini and his brother Enrico (Eddie), were killed a few months later, as was the hit team that had taken them out, all part of Cacace's efforts to hide his fingerprints.

According to court records, Smith feared for his life and reached out to a Lucchese soldier, and after two sit-downs between the Colombo and Lucchese families, the Colombos agreed to spare Smith.

February 1992, during that decade's Colombo War, Cacace was ambushed and shot outside a social club in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Cacace was a supporter of Vic Orena, who was challenging Carmine Persico for control of the family. During the attack, two gunmen fired 14 shots at Cacace. Although wounded, Cacace drew a handgun and fired back. As the Colombo war progressed, Cacace switched back to the Persico faction, which ultimately won.

Up until his current problems, Cacace was among the few participants in the Colombo war who hadn't been killed or sent to prison for life.

But he was badly wounded during the war -- and not for the first time.

Cacace had received a gunshot wound prior to the Colombo war, back in 1976, when he was ambushed by three robbers near his florist shop in Brooklyn. After being shot in the chest, Cacace wrestled a handgun away from the robbers, shooting one of them dead in the process. The remaining robbers fled the scene and the critically wounded Cacace drove to a local police station with the robber's bloodied corpse in the backseat.

That's what I'd call a tough guy.