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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Feds Announce Arrest and Indictment Joel Cacace

Aired January 22, 2003 - 11:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: As promised before the break now, we're seeing the assembly there in New York of officials who are about to announce from the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn the indictment of a Colombo family, figure, a Colombo family, we should say. This indictment we expect is going to name other alleged Colombo and Lucchese family associates.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ROSSLYN MAUSKOPF, U.S. ATTY.: ... United States attorney Michael warren and Patricia Natopolis (ph), who are in charge of this prosecution.

Today, charges were unsealed against 13 members of the Colombo organized crime family, including acting boss Joel Cacace, also known as "Joe Waverly." The charges in this indictment catalog Cacace's violent rise through the ranks of the Colombo family, from his position as soldier in the 1980s to acting boss, the position that he now holds in the family as a result of the successful prosecutions of bosses Carmine Persico and his son, Alfonse "Alley Boy" Persico and underboss Jackie Duross (ph), all of whom are serving lengthy federal prison sentences.

Cacace has been indicted for his role in four notorious murders dating back to the late 1980s, as well as his supervision of an active crew of the Colombo family, headed by Luca Demateo (ph), a longtime friend of Cacace's and a captain in the Colombo family. Demateo's (ph) crew, under the supervision of Cacace, engaged in such bread and butter racketeering acts, such as extortion, gambling and cigarette smuggling, that exploited lucrative opportunities and raised cash for the Colombo family.

As this indictment charges, Cacace, while a soldier in the Colombo family, was directly involved in the execution of three organized crime associates and the senseless murder of administrative law Judge George Aaronwald (ph), killed in a tragic case of mistaken identity.

Early in 1987, the jailed boss of the Colombo family, Carmine Persico, ordered the murder of Aaron Aaronwald (ph), a former federal prosecutor, who in the eyes of the Colombo family had disrespected organized crime through his work as a federal prosecutor. The order to kill Aaronwald (ph) was given to Joel Cacace, who, along with two members of his crew, Eddie and Vincent Careenie (ph), began to track the movements of the individual that they believed was former prosecutor Bill Aaronwald (ph). In a horrible twist, they made a terrible mistake. They began tracking the movements not of Bill Aaronwald (ph), but of his father, George. George Aaronwald (ph) is a retired civil servant and a part- time administrative law judge. He was 78 years old. and he was gunned down while picking up his laundry across the street from his home in Long Island City.

Today, Joel Cacace is charged with the conspiracy to murder Bill Aaronwald, and with the senseless murder of his father, George. We are particularly gratified that after more than a decade, we have brought to justice the man who carried out this conspiracy.

Cacace is also charged with the murders of two organized crime associates, Carmine Verialli (ph), a Lucchese soldier, and Frank Santora (ph), a Bonanno associate.

Six months after the murder of George Aaronwald (ph), angered by the botched murder of Mr. Aaronwald (ph), the Careenies (ph), the two associates of Joel Cacase that carried out the murder of Aaronwald, were themselves murdered.

On the way back from their funeral, Joel Cacace ordered the murders of the two individuals that he claimed kill the Careenies, Carmine Varielli (ph) and Frank Santora (ph).

On September the 23rd, 1987, Cacace's orders were carried out. Varielli (ph) and Santora (ph) were murdered in broad daylight outside of a social club on Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. Today, Cacace is charged with their murders.

Finally, the indictment charges Cacace with the murder of Carlo Antonino (ph), a former police officer with the New York City Police Department, who Cacace regularly paid to supply him with information, confidential information, about police investigations.

Out of fear that Antonino himself would become an informant, Cacace and his trusted crew members, Eddie and Vincent Careenie (ph) lured Antonino (ph) into a van on the pretext they were all going to go out and commit a robbery. Antonino (ph) was shot twice in the back of the head, and his body was recovered on a Brooklyn street in the van that they were going to use allegedly to commit a robbery.

Murders are never forgotten. The charges filed today against acting boss Joel Cacace for the murders of Judge George Aaronwald (ph), the conspiracy to kill his son, William, a former federal prosecutor, and the execution of Cacace's organized crime associates are the first steps toward bringing to justice those responsible for a long and unfinished chapter in the Colombo family's violent history.

Our investigation is still continuing. Today's indictment is the result of a sustained and thorough investigation by the United States Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Police Department, and the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

And I really want to commend all of those agencies for their cooperative efforts and for the great work that was done during the course of this investigation.

Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue our efforts to dismantle the leadership and the structure of the five organized crime families in New York City and put an end to their violent and their illegal activities.

At this point, let me turn the podium over to Kevin Donovan, the assistant director in charge of the FBI.

HARRIS: We'll step away at this point, Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney there, announcing this big news coming from New York, product of a decade-long investigation, we hear, this morning.

It appears as though Joel Cacace, also known as "Joel Waverly," being indicted now by the U.S. attorney's office, and also listing here what she called, the U.S. attorney called, catalog of a violent rise to leadership in the Lucchese crime family. Mr. Cacace was linked to four different notorious murders, as well as what she also called bread and butter racketeering operations, like extortion and gambling, and one of those murders, as we learned here, was that have a judge killed in the case of mistaken identity, Judge Aaronwald (ph).

We'll have more on this as this news develops throughout the day, so make sure you stay close to your TV here, or check out our Web site at cnn.com.

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