Published: December 20, 2005
Teen: My dad, partner killed Tankleffs in 1988
Testimony that also includes talk of hush money casts doubt on role of Martin Tankleff in death of parents
By Zachary R. Dowdy, Staff Writer

The son of a Selden man who Martin Tankleff's attorneys say committed the Sept. 7, 1988, attack on Tankleff's parents, Arlene and Seymour, testified that his father choked and beat Seymour Tankleff while his partner stabbed his wife to death as she slept.

Joseph J. Guarascio, 17, of Sarasota, Fla., also testified in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead that his father Joseph Creedon paid James McCready, a detective investigating the case, $100,000 to "keep his name out of it."

The teenager's testimony sparked gasps in Judge Stephen L. Braslow's courtroom and buoyed the hopes of Tankleff's supporters since it seemed to cast doubt on Suffolk prosecutors' contention that Martin Tankleff murdered his parents.

"When we were driving I just had to know: Did you do that?" Guarascio testified yesterday, recalling a question he asked Creedon during a visit to Long Island in April 2004. "The seriousness I got from him when he said 'Yes' was scary, really scary."

Martin Tankleff, who confessed to the crimes under questioning by McCready and another detective - but quickly recanted the confession - was convicted of the two murders in 1990 and is serving a 50-years-to-life sentence.

That confession, which Tankleff's attorneys contend was coerced, was the linchpin of the prosecution's case.

Guarascio submitted an affidavit last summer outlining his father's alleged role in the crimes. In the affidavit and in his testimony yesterday, he said Creedon said he choked Seymour Tankleff with a cable from a bike brake, and beat him with a .38-caliber gun.

Guarascio also testified and swore in the affidavit that another man, Peter Kent, stabbed Arlene Tankleff to death.

Guarascio also said that the two men entered the home when Jerry Steuerman, Seymour Tankleff's business partner, gave them a signal, and that another man, Glenn Harris, had driven the men to the Belle Terre home but did not take part in the killings.

Creedon, Steuerman and Kent have all denied a role in the murders, and Harris has stated in an affidavit and letters that he only drove the men to and from the home and discarded a pipe used in the killings.

The ongoing hearing before Braslow, which began in July of last year, will determine whether Tankleff and his attorneys, Barry Pollack of Washington and Bruce Barket of Garden City, have amassed enough new evidence to vacate the conviction and warrant a new trial.