From the outside, John Corning looked to have a charmed life. The son of Peter Corning, the FBI agent turned district attorney who ascended to position of the county’s top judge, John Corning was popular — and a star tailback on the Auburn High School football team.
The night before Julie Monson disappeared, Corning earned 120 yards in 28 carries to lead the Maroons to a 29-18 victory over Nottingham. It was the first time Auburn beat the Syracuse powerhouse since 1976. Corning scored three touchdowns.
The rumors of Corning’s involvement in Monson’s disappearance began early. In a 1991 interview, John Corning said his father received a call from Bianco’s attorney in May 1982. William Lynn called to warn Peter Corning that rumors were spreading about his son’s involvement.
But according to both Cornings, Lynn wasn’t calling to accuse; he had a favor to ask. John Corning said Lynn told his father Bianco had admitted to killing Monson, and Lynn believed him. Lynn asked Peter Corning to contact then-District Attorney Ross Tisci and request that an arrest be put off for a few days, in hopes that Bianco would say where Monson’s body was hidden.
“Lynn told my father that Bianco would surrender himself and a plea arrangement would be worked out,” John Corning said.
Peter Corning confirmed the story, and called the accusations of his son’s involvement “an attack against the family.”
No plea arrangement was ever made with Bianco. And it wasn’t until 1991 — when Bianco had already been convicted by a jury and sent to state prison — that any mention of Corning’s involvement was made formally. In an appeal to have his conviction overturned, Bianco’s attorneys included an affidavit from Mark Sweeting, who said Thomas Calescibetta, the prosecution’s star witness at the Bianco trial, told him a different version of the story than he told jurors — a version that implicated Calescibetta, James Vasile and John Corning.
John Corning has had several run-ins with the law.
In June 1981 he was charged with violating the city’s open-container law. In June 1985, he was again charged with violating the open container law. This time, the arrest became a fight with police officers, and Corning was charged with resisting arrest and assault. Corning complained to the FBI that his civil rights were violated. District Attorney Paul Carbonaro, just weeks after Bianco was convicted on murder, dismissed the charges against Corning. Corning dropped his complaint against the police department in August 1986.
In 1988, Corning was involved in a bar fight, where he was alleged to have punched a man at Cassidy’s on Grant Avenue. No arrest was made at the scene, but Corning’s attorney, David Weinstein, claimed he had witnesses who saw the other man spit at Corning and throw the first punch. Corning was at the bar with the ex-girlfriend of the other man.
In October 2004, Corning was sentenced to probation for his part in a large-scale drug-trafficking sweep by the state Attorney General’s Office. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal conspiracy. In 2006, Corning was sent to jail in Onondaga County for violating that probation. His attorney said he’d been “lost in this underworld of crack” before turning his life around.
John Corning currently lives in Florida. He was recently married.