WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) – A former police officer faces federal charges of murdering four people and planning to distribute cocaine. Reports say the suspect hid the bodies on a property he rented about 90 minutes north of New York City.
The defendant, 49-year-old Nicholas Tartaglione, retired on disability from the Briarcliff Manor police force in 2008.
He is reportedly the last person seen with four men whose bodies were found buried this week on property the ex-cop rented in Otisville, on the outskirts of Orange County.
A superseding indictment filed Tuesday says Tartaglione murdered the four men in April 2016 at the Likquid Lounge, a bar in Chester, New York, reportedly owned by Tartaglione’s brother.
Some of the victims “were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to a statement from the Justice Department, which says Tartaglione had been part of a conspiracy for nearly a year prior to sell at least 5 kg of cocaine.
“While all murders tear at the fabric of our communities, when the alleged perpetrator of a gangland-style, quadruple homicide is a former police officer, that strikes at the heart of civilized society,” U.S Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The four victims were Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hecctor Gutierrez.
During his 12 years on the Briarcliff Manor police force, Tartaglione’s name came to notoriety when a cable-television host sued him and the town for assault in the late 1990s. That case settled for more than $1.1 million. Briarcliff Manor is part of northern Westchester County, just east of the Hudson River.
Tartaglione, who was once accused of perjury and placed on suspension, retired from the force in 2008 on an annual pension of roughly $65,000 a year.
Likquid Lounge, which bills itself on its website as “1 of the premier night clubs and lounges in the Hudson Valley,” is said to be owned by Tartaglione’s brother Michael.
Tartaglione was arrested Monday and presented at the federal courthouse in White Plains. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison for the drug charges and a maximum life prison sentence or the death penalty for each of the murder charges.