Ex-cop Nicholas Tartaglione gets 4 life sentences for execution-style killings in 2016 – NBC New York

What to Know

  • All four men were found buried on the property of the former suburban New York police officer, Nicholas Tartaglione, who was found guilty in the killings and sentenced to four life sentences
  • The bodies were recovered in Dec. 2016, about eight months after the four were killed in Otisville, about 70 miles north of Manhattan. At trial, defense attorneys argued that Tartaglione had nothing to do with the killings and was being used by the government as a convenient fall guy
  • Tartaglione gained further notoriety as a former cellmate of Jeffrey Epstein, before the disgraced financier committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting sex-trafficking charges.

A former New York suburban police officer turned drug dealer was given four life sentences by the judge after being found guilty in the strangulation death of one man and the execution-style murders of three others in 2016.

Nicholas Tartaglione, a retired police officer who served in Briarcliff Manor, Mount Vernon and Yonkers, will serve the sentences consecutively for his role in the murders of four men, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Monday. During the sentencing, the judge in the case described Tartaglione as a “monster.”

The 56-year-old was convicted in July 2023, nearly four years after he briefly was a cellmate of Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious sexual predator and New York City financier. Tartaglione had been found guilty on all counts of the murder, kidnapping and drug conspiracy charges he faced.

The bodies were recovered in December 2016, about eight months after the four men — Martin Luna, Miguel Luna, Urbano Santiago and Hector Gutierrez — were killed in Otisville, about 70 miles north of Manhattan.

“Nicholas Tartaglione brutally and senselessly murdered Martin Luna over money, and then ruthlessly executed Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hector Gutierrez simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He tried to cover up his crimes by burying all four victims in a shallow grave on his property,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Today’s sentence of four consecutive life terms justly reflects the pain and suffering each victim underwent at Tartaglione’s hands. I hope that this outcome brings some measure of closure to the victims’ families and to their community.”

After Tartaglione was found guilty, Williams said that the former cop masterminded the killings after suspecting Martin Luna had stolen money from him.

Prosecutors had said Tartaglione lured Luna into meeting him in a bar in what became a “deadly trap” for the man, two of his nephews and a family friend he brought with him. Prosecutors said in court papers that Tartaglione drove Luna’s body to his Otisville ranch, while his co-conspirators brought the other three men “alive and bound” to the same place.

“What occurred next could only be described as pure terror, as Tartaglione tortured Martin, then forced one of his nephews to watch as Tartaglione strangled Martin to death with a zip tie,” Williams said previously.

The prosecutor said Tartaglione and two associates then transported the three other men to a remote wooded location, forcing them to kneel before shooting each of them in the back of the head and burying all four in a mass grave. Prosecutors said Tartaglione shot one of the remaining three men himself.

“Tartaglione’s heinous acts represent a broader betrayal, as he was a former police officer who once swore to protect the very community he devastated,” Williams said.

At trial, defense attorneys had argued that Tartaglione had nothing to do with the killings and was being used by the government as a convenient fall guy. Tartaglione’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment after the sentencing.

In July 2019, Tartaglione shared a Manhattan jail cell with Epstein when the wealthy financier was placed on suicide watch after being discovered with bruises on his neck. Epstein hanged himself weeks later while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

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