MANHATTAN — Celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover's long-lost son, who has been indicted in connection with the murder of a Hofstra University graduate, legally changed his last name to Rackover a year ago in hopes that it would help him straighten out his life, according to court papers.
James Rackover, 25, said in a name change petition in March 2015 that his new name would let him distance himself from his criminal past in Florida and start over.
"Changing my last name to Rackover is part of my continued pursuit to change my life for the better and take the name of my real father, Jeffrey Rackover, to honor him and continue our family name," said James Rackover, whose last name had previously been Beaudoin.
James was originally named after James Arthur Beaudoin, a man he had grown up thinking was his dad, the petition said.
But James Rackover said that James Arthur Beaudoin abandoned him and his family when he was 11, leading him down a bad path that ended with him being convicted of felony burglary in 2007 and breaking his probation with subsequent arrests for driving violations.
"As a result, from adolescence I grew up without a father in my life," he wrote in his petition.
"I believe that the lack of a father figure in my life ultimately led to my legal issues."
James Rackover said in the petition that he learned in September 2013 that his real biological father was Jeffrey Rackover, a wealthy Manhattan jeweler who counts Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey as his clients.
DNAinfo New York was the first to reveal how Jeffrey Rackover claimed he had learned that his long-lost son was the result of a brief affair with a Florida woman two decades earlier.
"Upon meeting my father, and together discovering that Jeffrey Rackover is, in fact, my father, he immediately took me in and welcomed me as his son," James Rackover said in the petition.
"Since that time we have spent nearly every day together and have grown very close."
Manhattan prosecutors said James Rackover was indicted on Tuesday in the murder of Joseph Comunale, whose body was found with multiple knife wounds in a shallow grave in New Jersey last week. Comunale had disappeared after partying at James' apartment on Nov. 13.
Prosecutors last week charged Rackover and his buddy Lawrence Dilione, the owner of a small roofing company in New Jersey, with evidence tampering, hindering prosecution and concealing a body.
However, prosecutors have kept the indictment charges against Rackover sealed until his next court appearance on Dec. 5. They were being held on $3 million bond.
The name change petition, filed in Manhattan Civil Court, asked that James' new name be James Arthur Rackover. It said that Jeffrey Rackover consented to him taking his last name. It also said that Jeffrey was willing to testify to his consent.
The petition said that James Rackover was also living with Jeffrey and that as a result of his newfound dad's guidance, he was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology.
James said that when he was 17 he was convicted of felony burglary and received probation. But a year later, he was arrested for driving without a license and had his probation revoked. As a result, he served one and a half years in prison.
He was released on July 12, 2013, two months before he learned the identity of his real father.
"I respectfully request that this court grant my request to change my last name from Beaudoin to Rackover because I do not want to continue to carry the last name of a man who abandoned me, but rather, I want to take the name of my real father, Jeffrey Rackover, a man who immediately took me in as his son," James Rackover said in the petition.