Homicide

Retired NY police officer charged with killing four men in drug deal

This undated photo shows former Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. police officer Nick Tartaglione.

This undated photo shows former Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. police officer Nick Tartaglione.  (Nick Tartaglione)

A retired police officer has been accused of killing four men who went missing during a drug deal this year, and authorities have discovered the remains of four bodies on property linked to him.

Nicholas Tartaglione was arrested on Monday on charges of murder and conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms and more of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

"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," Bharara said.

Tartaglione, who used to work for the Briarcliff Manor police department and lives in Otisville, pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Mark DeMarco, did not immediately return a telephone message requesting comment.

Prosecutors said Tartaglione participated in the killing of Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez in April in and around a bar called the Likquid Lounge in Chester while conspiring to sell cocaine. They said some of the victims were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"These four men had not been seen or heard from since the day of their alleged murder," said Bharara, who hoped the arrest brought "some measure of comfort to the victims' families and loved ones."

Chester police Chief Peter Graziano said one or two of the victims had been involved in some kind of drug activity.

He told The Journal News the four bodies were recovered in Otisville, about 60 miles north of New York City, on Tuesday on property rented by Tartagliano. He said the remains were being sent to the county's medical examiner's office for identification.

Tartaglione, who's 49 years old, joined the Briarcliff Manor police department in 1996 after stints as a police officer in Mount Vernon and Pawling, The Journal News said. He retired on disability in 2008.