What to Know
- Lawrence Dilione has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Joey Comunale, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said
- Comunale, 26, was stabbed to death at a luxury apartment building in Manhattan, likely the night of Nov. 12 or early Nov. 13
- Authorities recovered Comunale's remains Nov. 16; a criminal complaint says he was stabbed more than a dozen times and burned
A New Jersey man who faced charges in the death of a Hofstra graduate who was brutally murdered after a night of partying at a Manhattan apartment has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, prosecutors said.
Lawrence Dilione, 30, of Jersey City, and James Rackover, 27, were charged with murder for the death of 26-year-old Joseph "Joey" Comunale after Comunale’s body was found buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey on Nov. 16, 2016.
Rackover was found guilty in the brutal murder and sentenced to 25 years to life last month. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday said Dilione has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Dilione is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 6, the attorney’s office said.
“This is another major step forward on the road toward justice for Joey Comunale,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.
“I thank our prosecutors for ensuring not only that this defendant will serve significant prison time for his role in this unconscionable crime, but also for sparing the Comunale family the agony of reliving their son’s death in yet another murder trial,” he added.
Prosecutors say Comunale, of Stamford, Connecticut, was stabbed more than a dozen times in a luxury Manhattan apartment owned by Rackover after partying with him and others.
His body was found buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey on Nov. 16, 2016. Authorities say Rackover and Dilione put him there. Comunale had been stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest; his legs were burned and a gas canister was discovered nearby, a criminal complaint says.
According to the criminal complaint, an informant told authorities Rackover — the adopted son of jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffery Rackover — was seen leaving his apartment building and putting a large duffel bag into the trunk of a black Mercedes with tinted windows.
Records show the car leaving Manhattan and traveling through the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey, the criminal complaint said.
Bloody clothing, sheets and towels were found in Rackover's apartment during the course of an investigation, prosecutors said. The black vehicle that Rackover had been seen driving was later returned to Manhattan, left in a parking garage on East 58th Street, and a cadaver dog made a positive alert for a body or bodily fluids in the trunk area, the complaint said.