NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A retired police officer killed four men while involved in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Nicholas Tartaglione was arrested Monday.
Tartaglione, 49, of Otisville, retired from the Briarcliff Manor police force on disability in 2008. He rescued dogs and horses on his 65-acre farm and was reported looking for a new job with the Mount Vernon police department, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
Tartaglione is accused of killing Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez. They all disappeared April 11.
Surveillance video from that day shows the victims exiting their car outside a Chester diner in the same plaza as Likquid Lounge, a bar owned by Tartaglione’s brother.
Prosecutors believe the former officer murdered the men inside the bar.
“I was appalled, I couldn’t believe it,” said Village of Chester Police Department Police Chief Peter Graziano Jr.
“It’s just despicable and heinous you know that a guy who has taken an oath and sworn to protect the people turned around and just because he’s no longer a police officer then turns to these kinds of things, whether it’s drugs, or money, or murder,” he added.
Graziano said his detectives have been working hard to bring the victims’ families closure.
Police say they found four bodies believed to be the victims on property leased by Tartaglione and used by one of the victims to raise pigs Tuesday.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, authorities won’t say who or what lead them to suspect Tartaglione in this case. It’s believed at least one of the victims was involved in the drug trafficking. The rest may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Web Extra: Read The Indictment (.pdf)
“When the alleged perpetrator of a gangland-style, quadruple homicide is a former police officer, that strikes at the heart of civilized society,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “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.”
“The despicable acts of murder are more egregious in this case because the alleged murderer, a former police officer, once swore to serve and protect people from harm,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
“These brutal murders are prime examples of the dangerous crimes that are associated with drug distribution,” said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “Narcotics destroy communities and put lives at risk.”
“This unspeakable crime shows how destructive the drug trade is and why we must all endeavor to continue the fight,” said Graziano. “This scourge is not limited to large urban areas, but small rural ones as well.”
Tartaglione could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. He is due back in court in January.