NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The father of a man killed in an Upper East Side apartment last year has filed a lawsuit against Jeffrey Rackover, alleging the so-called “jeweler to the stars” helped cover up the murder.
James Rackover, a young man the jeweler calls his son, is one of two suspects facing murder charges in the death of 26-year-old Joseph Comunale. A third man has been charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence in the case.
Comunale was last seen at a party at James Rackover’s apartment on East 59th Street and Sutton Place on Nov. 13, 2016.
The Stamford man was stabbed fifteen times, thrown from an apartment window, and his body was then dumped in New Jersey, police said. When his body was found days later buried in a shallow grave at the Jersey shore, there was evidence that it was doused with gasoline and set on fire, according to police.
LINK: Read The Full Lawsuit
The lawsuit brought by the victim’s father, Patrick Comunale, alleges that there’s evidence that the 57-year-old Rackover tried to cover up the murder in the Grand Sutton apartment.
“Jeff Rackover was in that apartment within a couple of hours after the murder and yet he claims he didn’t see anything or notice anything even though according to the police report the apartment had a smell from the clean up, that there was probably at that point still blood and other evidence,” attorney Bob Abrams said.
Investigators found a mess inside Rackover’s apartment at the Grand Sutton. Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said they recovered about 32 pieces of evidence.
Abrams said the day after the murder when the victim’s father and police showed up at the apartment looking for Comunale, Rackover was uncooperative and threatened to sue the police if they didn’t leave immediately.
“Jeffrey apparently got some call from somebody in the building that the police were there and started yelling at the police that if they didn’t leave he was going to sue them and that they had to get away,” Abrams said. “He was very clearly upset that they were there and made it very clear that he was not going to cooperate in the investigation.”
Abrams said Rackover let James borrow his Mercedes-Benz to transport the body to New Jersey.
“Within a few hours of the murder taking place they spent a bunch of time together — Jeffrey was in the apartment, Jeffrey let him use the car — one has to think that there’s a strong possibility that they talked about the murder,” Abrams said.
He called Jeffrey Rackover’s actions despicable and said it shows he had something to hide.