DA Vance: All Three Defendants Convicted in 2016 Stabbing Death of Joseph Comunale


February 15, 2019

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced that all three defendants have been convicted for their roles in the death of Joseph Comunale at an Upper East Side apartment in November 2016. Today, MAX GEMMA, 31, pleaded guilty in New York Supreme Court to one count of Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, and is expected to be sentenced on April 12, 2019.

“Two years ago, Joseph Comunale, a bright and beloved 26-year-old man, was taken from his family and friends in a crime of unbelievable violence and cruelty,” said District Attorney Vance. “Now, each of the men responsible for stabbing Joey to death, dumping his body in a shallow grave, desecrating his remains, and trying in vain to destroy the evidence, have been convicted for their crimes. While these convictions will never undo Joey’s suffering or the suffering of his loved ones, it is my hope that they will help the Comunale family continue to heal from this devastating trauma and loss.

“I commend my office’s prosecutors and our NYPD partners for their remarkable professionalism and tirelessness, from the initial stages of this investigation up through this last conviction, as they fought to obtain justice for Joey.”

On December 5, 2018, co-defendant JAMES RACKOVER was sentenced to 28 and 2/3 years-to-life in prison after a New York Supreme Court jury found him guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, and Concealment of a Human Corpse. LAWRENCE DILIONE, the other co-defendant, was sentenced to 23 years in prison on February 6, 2019 after pleading guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree.

Assistant D.A. Antoinette Carter handled the prosecution of the case with Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Assistant D.A. Rachel Ehrhardt under the supervision of Executive Assistant D.A. John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Paralegals Paige Mickel and Uriel Medina-Espino and Technology Analyst Ofelia Defran provided valuable assistance with the case.

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

 

Defendant Information:

JAMES RACKOVER, D.O.B. 3/12/1991

New York, NY

Convicted:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, one count
  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, a class D felony, one count
  • Concealment of a Human Corpse, a class E felony, two counts

Sentenced:

  • 28 and 2/3 years-to-life in prison

 

LAWRENCE DILIONE, D.O.B 7/27/1988

Jersey City, NJ

Convicted:

  • Manslaughter in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count

Sentenced:

  • 23 years in prison

 

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

Oceanport, NJ

Convicted:

  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, a class D felony, one count