DA Vance Announces Trial Conviction of James Rackover for Brutal 2016 Murder of Joseph Comunale

November 2, 2018

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of JAMES RACKOVER, 27, for brutally murdering 26-year-old Joseph Comunale at an Upper East Side apartment and burying his body in a makeshift grave in New Jersey. A New York Supreme Court jury found RACKOVER guilty on all charges: Murder in the Second Degree, Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree, and Concealment of a Human Corpse. He is expected to be sentenced on December 5, 2018.

“Adored by his friends and family, Mr. Comunale had a promising future ahead of him when his life was so tragically cut short,” said District Attorney Vance. “He was murdered in cold blood in a crime of unconscionable violence, his body mutilated, thrown from a fourth-story window, and abandoned behind a florist’s shop in New Jersey. All the while, the defendant expressed no remorse, lying about the crime throughout the investigation and even bragging about it to his friends. Now, a trial jury has found him guilty of murder, and I thank the Judge, the jury, and my office’s prosecutors for holding him accountable for Mr. Comunale’s death.”

“As a prosecutor and as a father, I must also commend the Comunale family for their strength over the course of this trial. There is nothing more painful than the loss of a child and reliving that pain each day in court takes resilience and an enormous amount of courage. While I know that a trial conviction cannot undo this tragedy, I hope that it provides some measure of comfort to the family and loved ones as my office continues to seek justice for Joey.”

Charges against the co-defendants, LAWRENCE DILIONE and MAX GEMMA, are still pending.

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


  • 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