ZACHARY R. DOWDY AND ROBIN TOPPING
Teen says his father admitted to taking part in the
Tankleff killings, for which the victims’ son is imprisoned
August 4, 2005
As a county court judge prepares to consider whether Martin Tankleff
deserves a new trial for the murder of his parents, a 17-year-old boy
says another man -- his father -- confessed to the crime.
Joseph John Guarascio, son of Joseph Creedon -- the Selden man who
Tankleff's attorneys have said participated in the Sept, 7, 1988
of Arlene and Seymour Tankleff -- claims his father told him he took
in the grisly murders of the Belle Terre couple.
Tankleff's attorneys said they submitted the teen's affidavit and
to the court yesterday, just over a year since the start of a hearing
determine whether Tankleff should get a new trial. Tankleff is serving
Guarascio and his father were driving around in April 2004 "and I
asked him, 'Did you really do that?'" according to the teen's
affidavit. "We both knew I meant the Tankleff murders. He said
'Yeah. I did it.' Over the course of the day, he began to tell me more
and more about the murders, and I began to ask more
Final arguments are mostly done, but Tankleff's attorneys are hoping
County Court Judge Stephen Braslow will admit Guarascio's
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Leonard Lato, who is handling the
case for District Attorney Thomas Spota, said "we will not prejudge
Tankleff's new motion, but will investigate his claims to determine if
they have merit." Lato is opposing a new trial for
Creedon's attorney, Anthony La Pinta, of Hauppauge, called the
"ludicrous and absolutely meritless" and "a product of his
mother manipulating him with the specific purpose of hurting Joseph
La Pinta said Creedon and his former girlfriend, the boy's mother, have
had a longstanding bitter feud, in part about when Creedon can see his
One of Tankleff's attorneys, Barry Pollack, of Washington, denied the
statement was related to any feud, saying the boy had given it at
"great personal risk" and has "no ax to
Guarascio's statement said Creedon confessed to the crime while the
teenager visited with his father in New York. The boy and his mother
lived in Florida. Tankleff's attorneys, Bruce Barket, of Garden City,
Pollack said the boy initially came forward in February but they took
statement July 28 due to concerns about the boy's safety.
Tankleff's attorneys contend the boy corroborates testimony by other
defense witnesses who have said Creedon admitted to the killing.
However, Guarascio's statement differs somewhat from written accounts
provided by Glenn Harris, who has said he drove Kent and Creedon to
Terre but didn't know that a murder was in the works.
For example, Guarascio's statement says his father told him Harris knew
the murders would take place and helped dispose of a pipe used in the
Harris declined to testify at the hearing, invoking his Fifth Amendment
rights against self-incrimination. Richard Barbuto of Mineola, Harris'
attorney, said that given the affidavit, "There is certainly no
reason for Glenn Harris to testify."
The defense motion says, "The admission is startling because it
provides the first window into what took place inside the Tankleff
home," the night of the murders.
The boy's statement says Kent and Creedon waited outside the home until
they got a signal from Jerry Steuerman, a business partner of Seymour
Tankleff, who owed him money. Creedon used a cable to strangle Seymour
Tankleff and a gun to beat him, while Kent stabbed Arlene Tankleff in
bed, the statement says.
Kent and Steuerman have denied any part in the murders and have not
Martin Tankleff was convicted of the crimes in 1990, but his attorneys
and family contend he was railroaded by an overzealous Suffolk homicide
detective, James McCready, who tricked Tankleff into confessing by
telling him Seymour Tankleff had awakened from a coma and told police
son, then 17, had done it. Tankleff then implicated himself in a
statement to police. His attorneys say it was coerced.
Based on the new evidence, Tankleff's family called for his release, as
well as the arrest of Creedon, Kent and Steuerman.
"Enough is enough," Tankleff's family wrote in a statement.