06/13/2024

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Nicholas Tartaglione

Bodybuilder and cop turned convicted quadruple murderer known for being Jeffrey Epstein’s cellmate sent to prison for ‘monstrous’ crimes

Nicholas Tartaglione (left inset) in a photo from several years ago (News 12/screengrab), (right) a photo from the FBI search of the defendant’s property in late 2016 (ABC 7/screengrab)

A steroids-selling bodybuilder and former police officer in Briarcliff Manor, New York, remembered as a cellmate of the infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced Monday to spend the rest of his life, four times over, in federal prison for following his convictions in the execution murders of four Mexican men and his failure to get a new trial.

Though he maintains his innocence to this day, telling News 12 “I’m a cop in prison for crimes I didn’t do,” it was no secret that Nicholas Tartaglione, now 56, would face life in prison. That was the “mandatory” sentence, prosecutors emphasized in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, slamming as “monstrous offenses” the drug conspiracy, murder, and kidnapping crimes Tartaglione was found guilty of committing.

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    Tartaglione, who reportedly retired from policing after an injury in 2008, was convicted of luring 41-year-old Martin Luna to an April 2016 meeting where he strangled the victim to death in front his family members and a friend, believing that Martin “had stolen approximately $250,000 meant for the purchase of cocaine,” prosecutors said.

    Luna had traveled to a bar with his 25-year-old and 35-year-old nephews Miguel Luna and Urbano Santiago, and his friend Hector Gutierrez, 43, before the strangulation murder. From there, the three remaining victims were taken against their will to Tartaglione’s Otisville-area property and shot in the back of the head after being “forced […] to kneel.” The Middletown victims, who each “left behind a loving family,” were buried in a “mass grave,” prosecutors said.

    Pictured: The four men Nicholas Tartaglione was convicted of murdering

    Pictured: Nicholas Tartaglione’s victims (top left to top right, bottom left to bottom right) Martin Luna, Miguel Luna, Urbano Santiago, and Hector Gutierrez (CBS New York screengrab)

    “In carrying out these crimes, Tartaglione received assistance from Joseph Biggs, Gerard Benderoth (now deceased), Jason Sullivan, and Marcos Cruz,” the feds said. “Tartaglione tortured Martin by restraining him and beating him for over an hour, but when Martin did not provide the location of the missing money, Tartaglione strangled Martin to death with a zip-tie. Urbano, Miguel, and Hector were killed—each with a single gunshot to the back of the head, execution style—because they witnessed Martin’s murder and were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

    Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, headed by Damian Williams, had asked the judge to sentence Tartaglione to four life sentences to run consecutively. One of the prosecutors requesting that punishment was Maurene Comey, the daughter of former FBI Director James Comey.

    On Monday, Tartaglione was, indeed, sentenced to serve four life sentences consecutively behind bars.

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    The case against Tartaglione has garnered attention over the years in part because he was a Jeffrey Epstein cellmate who claimed to save Epstein’s life after a first suicide attempt behind bars in July 2019. Tartaglione’s lawyer said at the time that the two cellmates had become “more than cordial” and “became friends,” though their jail time together was brief.

    Jeffrey Epstein Appears In Manhattan Federal Court On Sex Trafficking Charges

    Then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

    A couple of weeks later, despite an “explicit directive” that he have a cellmate, Epstein died alone at the Metropolitan Correctional Center before he could face a sex trafficking trial, a death that was ruled a suicide by hanging.

    The post Bodybuilder and cop turned convicted quadruple murderer known for being Jeffrey Epstein’s cellmate sent to prison for ‘monstrous’ crimes first appeared on Law & Crime.