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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2017

DA VANCE: JAMES RACKOVER, LAWRENCE DILIONE INDICTED FOR MURDER OF JOSEPH COMUNALE

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of JAMES RACKOVER, 26, and LAWRENCE DILIONE, 28, for the November 2016 murder of 26-year-old Joseph Comunale. RACKOVER and DILIONE are each charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Murder in the Second Degree, as well as Concealment of a Human Corpse. RACKOVER, DILIONE, and co-defendant MAX GEMMA, 29, are further charged with Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree and Tampering with Physical Evidence. 

“The brutality of this horrific murder was compounded by the defendants’ efforts to dispose of the victim’s body in an attempt to evade prosecution,” said District Attorney Vance. “We will prosecute this case to the full extent of the law to achieve justice for Joseph and the Comunale family.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, Joseph Comunale was repeatedly stabbed on November 13, 2016, inside of RACKOVER’s East 59th Street apartment, following a party attended by DILIONE and GEMMA. At approximately 9:45 p.m. that night, RACKOVER and DILIONE drove Mr. Comunale’s body, which had been burned, from RACKOVER’s apartment to Oceanport, New Jersey, where they buried it in a shallow ditch. Mr. Comunale’s body was discovered by NYPD and Oceanport police officers on November 16, 2016. 

Assistant District Attorneys Antoinette Carter; Peter Casolaro, Senior Trial Counsel; and Rachel Ehrhardt are handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. 

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD and the Oceanport Police Department for their assistance with the investigation. 

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court or statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

JAMES RACKOVER, D.O.B. 3/12/1991 
New York, NY

Charges:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, one count
  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, a class D felony, one count
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class E felony, one count
  • Concealment of a Human Corpse, a class E felony, three counts

LAWRENCE DILIONE, D.O.B. 7/27/1988
Jersey City, NJ

Charges:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, one count
  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, a class D felony, one count
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class E felony, one count
  • Concealment of a Human Corpse, a class E felony, three counts

MAX GEMMA, D.O.B. 11/21/1987
Oceanport, NJ

Charges: 

  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, a class D felony, three counts
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class E felony, one count

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