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Friends Urge Celebrity Jeweler to Cut Off Adopted 'Son' Tied to Murder

By Murray Weiss | November 21, 2016 7:37am
 Jeffrey Rackover
Jeffrey Rackover
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Patrick McMullen

MANHATTAN — Celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover’s family and friends have told him to cut ties with his adopted “son” who is accused in the gruesome murder of a Connecticut man in Sutton Place after a night of partying last weekend, sources say.

“Jeffrey is devastated, inconsolable,” said a close friend after 22-year-old James Rackover, and Lawrence Dilione, 28, were arraigned Thursday in the stabbing death of Joseph Comunale, 28, of Stamford, whose body was found in a shallow New Jersey grave.

“Jeffrey was always lamenting that he was getting older, and wouldn’t have a family,” a close friend said, explaining why he took James in. 

“He was always saying, 'Who is going to take care of me when I am old?’” the friend added. “He thought, maybe, the kid was the answer.”

The younger Rackover's original last name is Beaudoin. He grew up in South Florida, frequently running afoul of the law, and even serving time in prison for armed robbery before heading to the Big Apple to start a new life a few years ago.

Now, James Rackover is being held on Rikers Island on $3 million bail, and Jeffrey Rackover is in seclusion at a posh Manhattan hotel.

Jeffrey Rackover's hideaway is a far cry from the modest, split-level, Long Island home in East Meadow where he grew up the middle son of three boys, their mother a Holocaust survivor, and father a jeweler with a small business.

Rackover's mother passed away when he was 7-years-old, and he stepped up and helped raise his older and younger siblings, his close friends recalled.

He eventually worked for his father, but ultimately wanted to branch out into business that would attract influential clients.

“Jeffrey was tenacious and, with his bright and warm personality, he was always networking with high-end people,” the friend continued.

Rackover's initial venture, Jeffrey Stevens Design, failed.

Undaunted, he went to work for several world-renowned jewelers, and then launched a new business, Jeffrey Rackover Diamonds.

His success put him in contact with the likes of casino magnate Steve Wynn, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, and President-elect Donald Trump and his wife, Melania.

Rackover's boyhood dreams had come true. But there was always a paternal void he apparently needed to fill.

 James Beaudoin, who goes by James Rackover, has been arrested at least eight times in Florida. NYPD police officers arrested him for the murder of Lawrence Dilione.
James Beaudoin, who goes by James Rackover, has been arrested at least eight times in Florida. NYPD police officers arrested him for the murder of Lawrence Dilione.
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Courtesy of Broward County Sheriff's Office

Exactly how Rackover, the lifelong bachelor, met young James Beaudoin remains a mystery, even to his family.

Several years ago, Rackover suddenly announced he had a long-lost son, James, who had showed up at his door claiming he was from Florida and that his mother had recently confessed that she once had a fling with Rackover.

The celebrity jeweler insisted a DNA test confirmed the relation, and he embraced James as his own, hoping that one day that his "son" would take care of him, friends say.

Others say Rackover simply met James at a Upper East Side sports club, where they worked out, with James telling the jeweler that he had a tough life, growing up without a father.

Regardless of how they met, Rackover moved James into his posh two-bedroom apartment, telling neighbors he was his long-lost son.

Soon, the jeweler started lavishing James with fancy cars, expensive watches, gym memberships, Hamptons rentals and European vacations.

He helped James get a job at an insurance firm, and tried to jumpstart a modeling career for him. Eventually, James took Rackover's name.

The one thing Rackover always asked for in return was for James was to stay out of trouble. 

But it seemed to follow him, close friends say.

There were police stops for speeding and DWI, and then late night partying.

This summer, Rackover stayed in California on business and with friends. He left James behind, mostly in the Hamptons.

At summer's end, they decided it was time for James to move out.

They eyed a fourth-floor apartment in the Grand Sutton, but James could not lease it because a background check revealed the extent of his criminal past. It surprised Rackover, and he was forced to rent the apartment for his "son."

Last Sunday morning, the apartment became the site of Comunale's slaying, police say.

After a night of partying, he was stabbed 15 times.

Sources say it is clear from Comunale's wounds to his hands that he put up a fight.  

The body was driven in Rackover's Mercedes to a wooded area, where they tried to burn it and bury it.

So far, James Rackover and Dilione have only been charged with crimes related to covering up Comunale's killing. Neither has yet been charged with his murder.

A motive for the killing remains unclear, but last weekend NYPD homicide and Crime Scene detectives were back at the Grand Sutton, searching James and Jeffrey Rackover's apartments.