Questions continue to be raised about the checkered past of Nicholas Tartaglione, the former Briarcliff Manor police officer turned drug conspirator who was identified on Tuesday as the suspect in the execution-style slayings of four men.
United States Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara announced that the 49-year-old Tartaglione had been charged in a five-count indictment for his participation in a drug conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and for the murders of the four, all of whom lived in Middletown in Orange County.
According to the indictment that was filed in White Plains Federal Court, on April 11, Tartaglione killed Martin Luna, 41, Urbano Santiago, 32, Miguel Luna, 25, and Hector Gutierrez, 43, at the Likquid Lounge, a bar which his brother reportedly managed for a time in the town of Chester in Orange after a cocaine deal that went bad allegedly involved at least one of the victims.
It is alleged that Tartaglione then drove with the bodies about a half hour from the bar in Chester to his farm in Otisville, also in Orange, where the men's four bodies were removed later in the day Tuesday. They are currently under investigation at the Medical Examiner’s Office to confirm their identifications.
Only one or two of the victims were believed to be involved in any drug activity, the others were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“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,” Preet Bharara, U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District, stated. “As alleged, Nicholas Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, participated in the senseless murder of four people in a bar in Chester.
“These four men had not been seen or heard from since the day of their alleged murder. We hope that today’s arrest brings some measure of comfort to the victims’ families and loved ones.”
This isn’t the first time the former Briarcliff Manor K9 Police Officer found himself in trouble with the law.
According to court papers, in 1999, Tartaglione was charged with perjury and official misconduct after testifying in court at a DMV license revocation hearing for a friend. Tartaglione was ultimately acquitted at trial, but fired by the village.
In 2003, he sued to get his job back and received more than $300,000 in back pay. He retired from the force in 2008 on disability with a reported annual pension of $65,000.
Tartaglione also had an ongoing legal battle with the late Clay Tiffany, an Ossining resident who hosted the popular public-access TV show, “Dirge For The Charlatans,” sued the village of Briarcliff Manor multiple times, claiming that Tartaglione assaulted him.
The village ultimately settled the lawsuit with Tiffany in 2000 for more than $1 million.
Tartaglione had reportedly worked as a police officer in Pawling, Mount Vernon and Yonkers prior to Briarcliff Manor.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II called Tartaglione “a dangerous man,” and said his agency will continue to work with local police departments to keep drugs off the streets.
“Once again, the work of a strong law enforcement partnership has resulted in an alleged dangerous man being taken off the streets,” he stated. “These brutal murders are prime examples of the dangerous crimes that are associated with drug distribution. Narcotics destroy communities and put lives at risk.”