Ex-New York police officer sentenced to life in executions of 4 men


A former suburban New York cop who turned drug dealer and orchestrated the executions of four men in 2016 was sentenced Monday to four back-to-back life sentences, federal prosecutors said.

Nicholas Tartaglione suspected a man of stealing from him in 2016 and lured him into a trap, after which he and others executed the man, as well as three family members or friends who happened to be with him, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Nicholas Tartaglione (via NBC New York)
Nicholas Tartaglione (via NBC New York)

A jury convicted Tartaglione, 56, in April 2023 on 11 counts of murder, four counts of kidnapping resulting in death, one count of kidnapping conspiracy and one count of narcotics conspiracy.

He had been a police officer in Briarcliff Manor, a village in Westchester County, around 20 miles north of New York City.

Tartaglione tortured Martin Luna, whom he had suspected of stealing $250,000, and then strangled him with a zip tie, prosecutors said.

He then took the three other men — Luna’s nephews, Urbano Santiago, and Miguel Luna, and family friend Hector Gutierrez — to some woods and forced them to kneel, Williams has said. They all were then shot in the back of the head.

Those three men just happened to be with Martin Luna when the kidnapping occurred.

They were killed "because they witnessed Martin’s murder and were in the wrong place at the wrong time," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing letter, in which they called Tartaglione's offenses "monstrous."

The bodies of all four men were buried on Tartaglione's property in Otisville in upstate New York, officials said. An FBI task force found the bodies in December 2021.

Tartaglione was sentenced Monday to four life sentences, which are to run consecutively.

His attorney, Inga Parsons, said they are appealing and will continue to fight to show Tartaglione's innocence.

In March, Tartaglione filed a motion through his attorney for a new trial, arguing that his legal counsel failed to challenge crucial evidence, as well as other missteps. Tartaglione said he was innocent.

The judge denied the motion for a new trial, records show.

Tartaglione is a former police officer and body builder who sold steroids to other body builders in the Hudson Valley area, prosecutors said, including to two people who assisted in the kidnapping and killings, Joseph Biggs and Gerard Benderoth.

Biggs, Tartaglione and Benderoth each shot one of the three men they'd forced to kneel, according to prosecutors.

"Under Tartaglione’s direction, Urbano, Miguel, and Hector were forced out of the car and onto their knees at gunpoint. Then one by one, each was executed," prosecutors wrote in the sentencing letter. "The terror the last victim to die must have felt borders on the incomprehensible."

As the four victims remained missing, their families reported their disappearance to police, which eventually led to the FBI task force’s finding their bodies.

Benderoth has died. Biggs pleaded guilty and in April was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison.

Two other men, Jason Sullivan and Marcos Cruz, were also involved and pleaded guilty. Sullivan was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison, and Cruz was sentenced in November to time already served.