Oceanport — Another former Oceanport resident has been arrested in connection with a case of a dead body found buried in a shallow grave behind the former Oceanport Borough Hall last month.
While three men have been arrested in the case, none have been charged with murder.
According to reports, the New York Police Department has charged Max Gemma, 29, of Oceanport, with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence in connection with a case involving the murder of Joseph Comunale, a 26-year-old Connecticut man whose body was found on Nov. 16.
Max Gemma is the son of former Oceanport Mayor Gordon Gemma. He and Larry Dilione were childhood friends going through the Oceanport school system together. Gemma went on to graduate from Shore Regional High School, while Dilione attended Red Bank Catholic.
“This is unbelievable to me,” said another childhood friend. “I grew up with both of them. I can’t see either involved with this. It’s heartbreaking for all involved.”
According to the New York Daily News, bail was set at $100,000 and has been posted.
His defense attorney emphasized that Gemma had not been charged with the murder.
“Let’s be very clear. he was not involved in any homicide. He was not involved in desecrating Mr. Comunale’s body, and they didn’t charge him with that for the simple reason it didn’t happen, and they know it didn’t happen,” defense attorney Mark Bederow was quoted by CBS News.
The other two men in the case were also charged with concealment of the corpse.
On Nov. 16, Comunale’s body was found in a suitcase buried in a shallow grave by the former borough hall on Monmouth Boulevard. A coroner’s report indicated he had been stabbed multiple times, and an attempt had been made to burn the body with gasoline.
Comunale had last been seen entering a party in Manhattan. on Nov. 13.
James Rackover of Manhattan and Lawrence Dilione of Jersey City, a former Oceanport resident, were arrested shortly after the body was found, and arraigned on charges of hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence and concealment of a corpse.
New York police also said they found bloody clothing, and evidence that bleach had been used to attempt to clean it, near the apartment, as well as other evidence.
Dilione and Rackover had initially been charged with second-degree murder, but that charge disappeared by the time they were arraigned.
The investigation is continuing.