James Rackover, the 25-year-old adopted son of celebrity Manhattan jeweler Jeffrey Rackover viciously murdered a Connecticut man before crudely trying to dismember him, all because he feared going back to prison, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
The grisly East Side murder of a Hofstra grad started over a cigarette and ended with Comunale being dismembered in a bathtub witha serrated blade.
A court filing by one of murder suspect James Rackover’s co-defendants provided a detailed accounting of the horrific Nov. 13 killing of Joseph Comunale after a night of hard partying.
The suspects beat the 26-year-old victim unconscious after a night of cocaine and boozing, then viciously pummeled and kicked tjhe helpless Communale, according to a statement by suspected co-conspirator Lawrence Dilione.
James Rackover allegedly panicked after his pal Larry Dilione, 28, knocked Joseph Comunale, 26, unconscious inside his luxury Midtown apartment on Nov. 13, 2016, the new filing states.
“Mr Dilione admitted assaulting Mr. Comunale to the point of unconsciousness after an argument over cigarettes,” wrote defense lawyer Mark Bederow in a motion to dismiss the indictment against codefendant Max Gemma.
Lawrence Dilione who claims to have been party only to the disposal of the body, when he was arrested, had told cops Comunale told them [Rackover and Dileone] he was going out for a pack of cigarettes and said, “What are you going to do about it?” sources said.
The attorney said Dilione made the admissions to investigators in the days after the gruesome killing.
“According to Dilione, Rackover then viciously kicked and beat the defenseless Mr. Comunale. After realizing Mr. Comunale was severely injured, Rackover, fearing arrest, stated, ‘we have to kill him,’” papers state.
James Rackover was arrested and placed in custody within days of the murder
The crazed former convict, who once served a stint in jail for burglary, brutally ensured that outcome, according to the filing.
“Rackover choked Mr. Comunale before stabbing him in the head with a knife,” Bederow wrote of Dilione’s statements.
“Mr. Comunale was placed in the bathtub, where Rackover unsuccessfully attempted to dismember him with a serrated blade. An enraged Rackover then stabbed Mr. Comunale several more times in the torso,” Bederow wrote.
Dilione, who acknowledged that the group had been drinking and snorting cocaine before the incident, told cops, “I didn’t kill Joe, it was James.”
Rackover has denied any involvement and claimed that Dilione and Comunale left the apartment and only Dilione returned, court papers show.
But his account is directly contradicted by video surveillance of the building.
The new filing provides a detailed account of what happened the night Comunale died, and the men’s desperate efforts to clean up the crime scene and dispose of the body.
So far, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office hasn’t charged any of the defendants with murder, although they are said to be treating the case as a homicide.
Larry Dilione on the night he was arrested in NJ
Dilione was out partying with Comunale when they and a group of friends headed to Rackover’s East 59th Street pad at about 5 a.m.
Video surveillance shows Comunale, wearing a quilted black jacket and jeans, and Dilione leave the building for about three minutes then return at 7:39 a.m.
Hours later, after 6:00 p.m., Rackover and Dilione are captured on video surveillance in the building’s basement, briefly entering the gym then darting into the stairwell, court papers show.
Once back in the apartment, Rackover called building staff and asked for a luggage cart.
He’s shown on surveillance wheeling the cart, loaded with four duffle bags and a backpack, to the front of the building where he transferred the cargo to the trunk of a Mercedes registered to his mentor, the celebrity Jeweler Jeffrey Rackover. According to the staments Dilione made, they drove to Oceanport, NJ, where they dumped the corpse, doused it in gasoline and set it ablaze in a shallow grave.
Investigators combing through the garbage at the Manhattan building retrieved a cut-up black quilted jacket, cut-up jeans, a comforter with Rackover’s name, shrink wrap fashioned into rope with what appeared to be blood on it, and a blood-soaked paper towels, the papers state.
Pals Larry Dilione and James Rackover [right] have thrown shade on each other as being reponsible for the murder
Rackover and Dilione are each indicted on five counts of hindering the prosecution, concealment of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Gemma is charged with two counts: hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.
Gemma’s attornry, Bederow said the prosecution’s case against Max Gemma is weak, merely based on his having changed his clothes before leaving Rackover’s apartment at 8:42 a.m., nearly ten hours before his co-defendants are seen scurrying around the building.
The attorney called the charges against Gemma “the product of spillover prejudice from the damning evidence presented against Rackover and Dilione, combined with conjecture that he was complicit merely because he changed clothes before he left Rackover’s apartment.”
He questions why authorities didn’t execute a search warrant on the apartment that Dilione and Gemma share in New Jersey until nine days after the alleged murder. Also noteworthy is the fact thta while implicating himself and Rackover, Dilione cleared Gemma in interviews with cops, stsing: “Max had nothing to do with it”.
He insinuated that Dilione’s statements would likely be tossed and evidence suppressed because cops interviewed him when they knew he had a lawyer. Notably, prosecutors have yet to reference Dilione’s graphic description of the killing in court or filings.
James Rackover, formerly James Beaudoin [seen in old mugshots] killed and quartered Joseph Comanale because he didn’t want to go back to jail
The elder Rackover, who took James under his wing about three years ago, lavishing him with gifts and setting him up on a posh apartment, has since distanced himself from the ex-con from Florida who changed his last name from Beaudoin to Rackover.
meanwhile James Rackover is being held on $1 million bond over $300,000 cash. Dilione is out on $300,000 bond while Gemma was released on $200,000 bond.