Long Island woman charged with killing lover, torching house to cover her tracks

A 54-year-old Long Island woman was charged on Thursday with beating her 75-year-old lover to death in his home in Centre Island in 2018 and torching the place to cover her tracks.

Jennifer Gross faces murder, robbery and arson charges for allegedly beating James Coppola to death with a pot or a pan after he refused to give her money. She then stole his jewelry and set fire to his house, officials said.

Gross was Coppola’s mistress for 20 years, but the two had a history of physical violence, Nassau County police told ABC 7 and other outlets at the time of Gross’ arrest. Coppola had an order of protection against Gross at the time of his death, police said.

Investigators initially labeled the fire suspicious because of the intensity of the flames and an autopsy revealed that Coppola was dead before the fire started.

“This defendant is accused of violently killing her romantic partner and then setting his house on fire to conceal this heinous crime,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release. “Our condolences remain with the Coppola family and friends as they continue to mourn his death.”

Gross, who pleaded not guilty to the indictment, is due back in court on Dec. 18. If convicted, could face a sentence of 47 years to life in prison.

Gross’ attorney, Jeff Groder, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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