There was a time when Joseph Cari — once a Chicago lawyer, major Democratic fund-raiser, pal of Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, Al Gore’s top presidential campaign money man — was a very big deal in this city. But it all fell apart about eight years ago, when federal prosecutors targeted him in a probe that also netted Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko.
At his peak, Cari was appointed by President Clinton to the board of Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, taking over as chairman in 1999.
At his low point, he pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2005, to attempted extortion, admitting he made phone calls shaking down a Virginia investment firm seeking Illinois’ teacher-pension fund business. As part of his plea deal, Cari cooperated with federal prosecutors. Cari endured six years of not knowing whether he would end up in prison.
He lives in Italy and New York, having moved from Chicago in 2006. Cari sold his Lincoln Park home in 2007, and he says the money from the house helped pay his bills. His wife, Rita, died of cancer in 2002. His daughter, Nicole, was married in the garden of his Italian home in 2012.
He is now the chairman and chief executive officer of Integration Capital & Trade Global, an international merchant bank, and travels to London, Mumbai and the Middle East. He also started working at Loyola Marymount University’s Institute for Leadership Studies in Los Angeles, where his daughter lives. He gives lectures on presidential politics and foreign policy at the Catholic school and is chairman of the institute’s advisory board.
Joseph A. Cari Jr. was born on October 8, 1952; the son of Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Cari of Evergreen Park, Illinois. Dr. Cari was Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago and served on the faculty at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago. Dr. Cari was also the author of the text "The Delivery of Emergency Care" which is listed on Amazon.com. Mrs. Cari served as Chairwoman of the Woman's Board of Mercy Hospital and was a homemaker and mother of five.
Mr. Cari graduated from Brother Rice Preparatory HS (with honors) in Chicago, IL and received his B.A. (cum laude) and J.D. degrees from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Cari was awarded and completed a Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University