MANHATTAN (CN) – Seeking justice after his son’s “charred, stabbed and bludgeoned remains” were discovered in a shallow New Jersey grave, a grieving father brought a complaint for punitive damages against the celebrity jeweler he says bankrolled the killer.
Filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court, the complaint comes one month after prosecutors brought murder charges for the November 2016 death of 26-year-old Joseph Comunale.
Patsy Comunale, the victim’s father, says killer 27-year-old James Beaudoin is the lover and surrogate son of so-called jeweler to the stars Jeffrey Rackover.
Rackover is said to have helped President Donald Trump choose the engagement ring for his wife, Melania. The 57-year-old is the only defendant to Comunale’s complaint, which stipulates that “Rackover has not yet been criminally charged in connection with Joey’s death or the subsequent conspiracy and cover-up.”
Alleging emotional distress and violation of the right of sepulcher, meaning the right to control the final disposition of human remains, Comunale says Rackover “played an intricate role in the concealment of the body of the mutilated murder victim, Joey.”
Rackover met Beaudoin in September 2013 and they lived together in Rackover’s luxury apartment building, The Grand Sutton, for two years, according to the complaint.
Shortly before Beaudoin moved out in 2015, however, the complaint says Rackover signed a sworn statement professing to be Beaudoin’s biological father so that the young man could change his last name.
Saying that Beaudoin changed his name “for nefarious purposes,” Comunale quotes Rackover’s own spokesman as conceding the men are not related.
The spokesman, Bo Dietl, is a former New York City police detective and current consultant who is running for mayor.
Comunale claims Dietl is one of the first people Rackover called after the murder, and that Rackover was well aware before the killing of Beaudoin’s extensive criminal history.
“During their tenure as roommates, Rackover experienced sexual pleasure from Beaudoin/Rackover and, in return, Beaudoin/Rackover received drugs, money, a luxurious lifestyle and other benefits from Rackover,” the complaint states.
Comunale says Beaudoin moved out in late 2015, but Rackover arranged for the young man to sublet another apartment in the same building on 59th Street, while also paying him a $10,000 monthly allowance.
As confirmed by forensic evidence, according to the complaint, Joey Comunale was inside Beaudoin’s sublet after a party on Nov. 13, 2016, when he was stabbed repeatedly.
Police found Joey’s body three days later, buried in a shallow ditch in Oceanport, New Jersey.
The victim’s father says Beaudoin used Rackover’s 2015 black Mercedes Benz, and his E-ZPass, to move the body, and that he provided the cleaning supplies Beaudoin used to sanitize the murder scene.
Noting that Rackover’s vehicle is in police impound, the complaint says cadaver dogs “made a positive alert for the presence of a human cadaver or human bodily fluids in the area of the trunk and rear panels of the vehicle matching Joey’s DNA/blood.”
Surveillance videos from the Grand Sutton show that Beaudoin went to Rackover’s 32nd floor apartment for help after the murder, and that Rackover went down to Beadoin’s fourth floor apartment shortly thereafter, according to the complaint.
In addition to disarray and blood stains, the residence would have “smelled from cleaning chemicals and the stench of death,” Comunale says.
The complaint also points to a statement by Rackover spokesman Dietl that Rackover did not notice anything wrong in Beaudoin’s apartment when he entered on Sunday morning to walk Beaudoin’s dog.
“This, notwithstanding the fact that Joey’s decomposing body was in the apartment at that time and that a heinous and bloody murder had been committed therein,” the complaint states.
Just a few hours after the murder, according to the complaint, “Rackover and Beaudoin/Rackover further discussed the cover-up as they watched the Dallas Cowboys football game inside of Rackover’s 32nd floor apartment.”
Comunale says Rackover was uncooperative with police during the investigation, at one point even rushing home from work to insist that police leave the Grand Sutton.
Rackover is also paying for Beaudoin’s counsel, though he did not post his bail, according to the complaint.
A graduate of Hofstra University who lived in Stamford, Connecticut, Joey Comunale had been working for his father’s security products dealership before his death. Police say Joey was strangled after fighting with Beaudoin over cigarettes.
Beaudoin is charged with second-degree murder for Joey’s death, as is Beaudoin’s childhood friend, 29-year-old Lawrence Dilione, whose home is beside the vacant New Jersey lot where Joey was buried.
Still in custody at the Manhattan Detention Complex, the pair also face multiple counts of concealment of a human corpse, plus hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.
Max Gemma, 29, is also charged with hindering prosecution and evidence tampering but is out on $200,000 bond.
Comunale is represented by Robert Abrams of the firm Abrams Fensterman. The attorney said in an interview this week with the New York Post that the lawsuit eventually could open the way for criminal charges against Rackover.