(CN) – With one culprit behind bars for his son’s brutal stabbing death, a Connecticut man leveled cover-up claims Tuesday against the parents of two accused accomplices.
Represented by the Abrams Fensterman law firm, Patsy Comunale brought his complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court two years to the day that his 26-year-old son Joey was killed at a party held at an apartment on East 59th Street.
Though a jury returned a guilty verdict on Nov. 2 for Joey’s killer, James Beaudoin aka James Rackover, related charges remain pending against Beaudoin’s childhood friend, Larry Dilione, and Max Gemma, who shared an apartment with Dilione in Jersey City. Dilione is charged with murder as well, and Gemma is charged with hindering prosecution and evidence tampering.
In his new complaint, Comunale accuses Dilione’s mother and Gemma’s father of having lied to police in the days following the murder and orchestrating a cover-up to keep Joey’s body hidden.
It took three days for police to find Comunale’s body in Oceanport, N.J., where it had been buried in a shallow grave on a vacant lot. In addition to 15 stab wounds, Joey had sustained fractures to his skull and ribs. The killers also attempted to dismember the body and to burn it.
Comunale says Gemma’s father and Dilione’s mother had known each other since their sons were in grade school, and they attempted to “concoct a plan for Max and Larry to avoid responsibility for their involvement in Joey’s murder and disappearance.”
Suzanne Dilione and Gordon Gemma “decided that rather than encourage their children to take responsibility or report the crimes themselves, [they] elected to actively participate in the cover-up of this horrific crime,” the 21-page complaint states.
Initially the parents counseled Dilione and Gemma to deny any knowledge of what had happened to Joey, according to the complaint. Comunale says the plan fell apart within hours, however, as the parents realized police had overwhelming evidence linking their sons to the crime and lying to police.
As the parents then tried to come up with an alibi for their sons, according to the complaint, they concocted a false narrative for the men to give should Joey’s body turn up: tell police Beaudoin killed Comunale in state of “roid rage.”
Comunale says Dilione’s mother and Gemma’s father kept in near-constant contact over the phone as police attempted to locate Larry Dilione.
When police questioned Gemma about his son’s potential involvement, he “feigned surprise” and “joked about the investigation, arrogantly questioning that this was ‘all over a missing [sic],’” according to the complaint.
Comunale says Gemma, a former mayor of Oceanport who is also a lawyer, threatened police as well. The suit quotes him as saying, “if my son goes back to Manhattan, I’m going to tell him not to speak with you.”
Comunale says a police detective quoted Gemma as muttering to himself in a police interview after trying to get Larry on the phone. “I hope Larry does not go to the police, he can’t shut his mouth,” Gemma allegedly said.
According to police reports, it was Larry who eventually led police to Joey’s body.
“We believe that at the conclusion of this civil litigation the evidence will show what exactly happened in terms of different family members and other people involved in the concealment of this crime,” Comunale’s attorney Robert Abrams said in an phone interview. “It is our hope that they will not only be held accountable on a civil level but also that the appropriate agencies will take a serious look at any further liability these individuals may have.”
Abrams declined to comment on whom else could be named in either a civil or criminal suit related to the alleged cover-up.
Mark Bederow, an attorney who represents Max Gemma, said in an interview that “it boggles the mind how an attorney can make such baseless claims” in the lawsuit against his client’s father.
“I recognize and have great sympathy for the pain that the plaintiff has suffered,” he said. “But the allegation that Gordon Gemma somehow instructed his son to cover up his role in a murder and helped conspire with Larry Dilione’s mother is absurd. It’s outlandish and frivolous.”
Much of the allegations in Comunale’s suit stem from a March 2018 suppression hearing during Beaudoin’s murder trial where Larry Dilione took the stand.
Bederow noted that Gordon was acting as an attorney for his son during police questioning and that he had testified during the March suppression hearing and was found credible by the judge at that hearing.
This is the third lawsuit Comunale has filed related to his son’s murder. In addition to a civil suit against Dilione, Gemma and Beaudoin, Comunale accused “jeweler to the stars” Jeffrey Rackover of having helped to cover up the crime as well.
Rackover, who is described in the suit as Beaudoin’s lover, signed a sworn statement in 2015 where he professed to be Beaudoin’s father, and Beaudoin in turn took his benefactor’s name.
Attorney Abrams declined to comment on the this 2017 lawsuit, which was discontinued with prejudice last month.
Rackover reportedly cut ties with Beaudoin after Joey’s murder.