Montauk Man Joseph Grippo Admits Killing Friend in Love Triangle

Montauk resident Joseph Grippo
Joseph Grippo, being brought to court for arraignment. (T.E. McMorrow)

An ex-con from Montauk has admitted to killing a 38-year-old former friend in a jealous rage over a woman both were seeing three years ago.

Joseph Grippo pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree manslaughter at Suffolk County court in the death of Robert “Panda” Casado, also of Montauk. The plea deal was reached after Grippo was about to go to trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

“This defendant chose to hurt another human being because he was scorned, and ended up killing
him,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. “While his admission of guilt and incarceration provide a form of justice for the victim’s loved ones and family, it won’t bring him back.”

Prosecutors said the 50-year-old man stabbed and bludgeoned Casado to death on a narrow, shrouded path frequently used as a shortcut through Kirk Park shortly after 7 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, 2019, Suffolk County police have said. Homicide Squad detectives arrested Grippo two weeks later following an investigation with East Hampton Town detectives. He has since been held without bail at Suffolk County jail.

Prosecutors said Grippo lured Casado to a secluded section of the path behind Second House and the Montauk Indian Museum that connects Main Street and Second House Road. There, Grippo used a pickaxe to stab Casadon and strike him in the head with the blunt side of the tool, authorities said. He died of blunt force trauma shortly later.

Grippo previously served two years in the Auburn Correctional Facility after being convicted of attempted robbery in 1990 at age 18. Six years after he was paroled, he was convicted of armed robbery and assault with a weapon with intent to kill, among other felonies, and served 15 years at the Collins Correctional Facility. When he was released in 2012, he returned to Montauk, where he lived in his mother’s house on Old Montauk Highway and worked as a landscaper.

Grippo faces up to 20 years to life in prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced September 7 by Judge Stephen Braslow.

Gary Swanson, a friend of Casado’s father Benny Garces, was previously quoted as saying the family was crushed by the murder. 

“It’s a horror,” he said. “The devastation fans out and is bleeding into the family, bleeding into their friends, and bleeding into the community.”

-With T. E. McMorrow and Stephen J. Kotz

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