New York

Jury Finds Man Connected to ‘Jeweler to the Stars' Guilty of Brutal 2016 Murder of Hofstra Grad

What to Know

  • Joey Comunale, 26, was stabbed to death at a luxury apartment building in Manhattan in late 2016
  • Authorities recovered Comunale's remains in a shallow NJ grave; a complaint says he was stabbed more than a dozen times and burned
  • Authorities alleged James Rackover killed Comunale after a night of partying; Jury found Rackover guilty Friday on all counts

A Manhattan jury found a famed jeweler's adopted son, who was accused of the brutal 2016 murder of a Hofstra grad after a night of partying, guilty on all counts Friday. 

James Rackover, 27, of Manhattan, was indicted last year in the death of 26-year-old Joseph Comunale. 

Rackover was found guilty of murder in the second degree, hindering prosecution in the first degree, and concealment of a human corpse.

He is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 5, 2018.

Prosecutors say Comunale, of Stamford, 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 an alleged accomplice 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, the criminal complaint says.

According to a criminal complaint, an informant told authorities 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. 

Rackover was born James Beaudoin in Florida and has a criminal record, including for burglary. The Broward County Sheriff's office provided NBC News with several mug shots of him from as early as 2007.

He was also charged with driving while intoxicated in New York City in 2015.

Court records shows that Beaudoin changed his last name to Rackover in 2015 after he was taken under the wing of jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffery Rackover. The two met in 2013 and became so close that Rackover referred to Beaudoin as his son, according to former NYPD detective Bo Dietl, a friend of the famed jeweler.

Rackover was aware of Beaudoin’s rough past and helped him get a job and an apartment in his building after meeting him, Dietl said in late 2016, adding that Rackover never had kids and embraced Beaudoin as his own.

“You know how you fall in love with a puppy dog? He fell in love with this kid. He just wanted to help him,” Dietl told NBC News.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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